Norouz has been celebrated for over 3000 years and one of the the very ancient traditions at Norouz is to 'create' a table arrangement called Haft-Seen (Persian: هفتسین, the seven seen's (س) of seven symbolic items.
Here is our haft-seen table
The Haft-Seen items are:
1. Sabzeh (سبزه) - wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
2. Samanu (سمنو) - sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
3. Senjed (سنجد) - dried oleaster Wild Olive fruit - symbolizing love
4. Seer (سیر) - garlic - symbolizing the medicine and health
5. Seeb (سیب) - apple - symbolizing beauty
6. Somāq (سماق) - sumac fruit - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
7. Serkeh (سرکه) - vinegar - symbolizing old-age and patience
The Haft-Seen table is highly symbolic and just a few items communicate so many meanings that are shared by anyone who understands their cultural significance. It made me think about symbolism in education. Symbols are everywhere on any university campus and disciplines are founded on symbolic language. The next thought that struck me was that creating symbols is an important outlet for our creativity. Fundamentally it's about giving ideas meaning and then being able to communicate that meaning to others. My next thought was, in what way do I create and use symbols in my own work. When I reflected on this I realised that everything I have tried to bring into existence has its own symbols and symbolic language, for example lifewide education & creative academic have their own logos and these are stamped on everything we produce like our website, magazine, books and events. My most recent example of creating a symbol was for my new book 'Exploring Learning Ecologies'. As the book developed I developed a picture to represent and communicate the complex idea so when I came to think about the cover it seemed natural to use this picture in the design, so I added people to the abstract picture and this is the symbol I will use to communicate to communicate the meanings I have given the idea. So my question is, if creating symbols is such an important aspect of our creativity - in what ways do we encourage and enable students to create and use their own symbols (rather than only using symbols that someone else has produced)? I would be really interested in hearing lots of perspectives on this.
Exploring Learning Ecologies