Sometimes, We Just Need a Learning Walk

flowercollage

I spent much of my day yesterday trying to wrap my head around how to begin the collective work of not just reflecting on the wonderful Making Learning Connected MOOC experience but also how to work collaboratively with others on our facilitation team to make our learning visible. We want to leave a trail for others behind us while also looking ahead to where we go with the beautiful cacophony and spirit of the MOOC. We’re hoping to set things in motion so that others can come along and “Remix the MOOC,” as co-facilitator Stephanie West-Puckett put it so creatively yesterday.

We now have an evolving plan for how we will proceed but to be honest, my brain was overwhelmed by the task here at a NWP retreat in Seattle. I kept staring for a long time at this table/chart we had created together and for some reason, my mind refused to put the pieces into place in a way that would allow me to see the big picture and all the parts.

So, you know what I did? I took a cue from the MOOC itself, and went off on a Learning Walk around the hotel grounds where we are staying. Actually, I took two Learning Walks yesterday and both proved very fruitful. The first time I wandered, I tried to pay attention to the natural and unnatural surroundings of the place. I removed my head from the act of thinking about the MOOC and it was in one of those moments of forced forgetting when a flash of insight happened. I saw the whole MOOC reflection plan from a new angleĀ  — not a table but as a diagram. That may not sound like much as I write here, but for me, it was one of those writing revelations where the cogs suddenly fall into place.

I went back and sketched out what had come to me on the walk, and thenĀ  I showed it to co-Facililator Joe Dillon, who (luckily for me), seemed to understand what I was drawing and what I was getting at. Our discussion then made visible some other ideas that might make it easier, once all of our pieces are in place, for someone else to navigate the reflections and advice that we are compiling around our experiences of facilitating the MOOC this summer. It will provide something less hierarchical and more spread out, just like the open nature of the MOOC itself. Or so I hope. But at least I can see it now.

Later, as I was trying to get started on one of my reflective writing pieces (I am writing about how we used pre-MOOC teasers to spark curiosity and set the ethos of play into the fabric of the MOOC), I had trouble getting started. The jumble of ideas danced in my head again. Staring at the screen of my computer, I realized it was time to go walking again. This time, I took my camera, and I began to notice the flowers on the grounds. Kneeling down, observing closely, I took pictures of as many of the flowers as I could on this Learning Walk. I was paying attention to the “micro” of the world, with faith that in doing so, my mind would allow me a way to start my piece and begin the flow. (See the collage above)

It worked, and I was soon back inside, writing away. Maybe these Learning Walks were more like Diversion Walks, but I really found the act of noticing the world brought me back to noticing my writing. I gave my mind permission to figure things out.

It also occurs to me as I write this post that I don’t often give my students the same opportunity. The best they can hope for is a walk to the water fountain or the bathroom, and not a walk on the grounds to observe a flower, or a falling leaf, or the slight shift in the wind before a storm. That’s a shame, but I am at a loss for how to change that right now. The MOOC has me thinking, though.

Might be time for another walk …

Peace (in the thinking),
Kevin

 

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2 Comments
  1. Hi Kevin,

    That is exactly how learning walks work for me! There is something about noticing (and documenting) that refreshes my thinking and helps me move forward. I know I don’t offer that opportunity for students–and now I am thinking about how to make that happen for kids too! (Love your images!)

    Kim

  2. We are embedded in the world and the world is embodied in us. Sounds to me like you just turned yourself inside out like a sea cucumber. What could be easier? Sorry I missed the unfolding of this on paper, but I am glad to become a part of it.

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