I had the great good fortune to participate last fall in my first Circle of Trust based on the work of Parker Palmer. To say the experience was transformational would be an understatement. The circle was lead by a most extraordinary woman, Sally Z. Hare. One of the things participants in Circles of Trust are invited to do is to write (with pen and paper) a journal to capture inner reflections and “soul work”. Last spring in my second circle experience, we were invited to craft a manifesto. Here’s mine. I think it still captures a little of what I am about with my current efforts at teaching and learning – and just BEING an educator at heart:
Stay rooted and grounded…while you uproot others from their places of complacency.
Be surprised at the expected and unexpected outcomes.
Foretell the future by dropping a trail of breadcrumbs out behind.
Love the ones you’re with – especially if they don’t love you back.
Lead cheers for victories large and small and great ideas and attempts that fall flat.
Be and do the unexpected.
Give energy away to feel renewed.
Never stop learning.
Always be ready for teachable moments.
Build new bridges to places no one knew they wanted to go.
Leave some dirt under your nails to put your roots into and
If I could start over…
I’ve had this post cooking for a while…thinking about where I started my professional life and where I am now….and what I would do differently if I could start over. Well…first, coming from a very provincial and isolated part of the southern US, to say that my options were rather limited at the time I began my undergraduate career would be an understatement. At the time (and I am REALLY dating myself here) women could be teachers or nurses. A few mavericks might pursue different options, but such a path was not easy to follow. So….I chose something conventional – the path of least resistance and all, certainly NOT feeling very rebellious at the time and not ever considering that there might be other things out there.
As I have continued my life in higher education, and in my most recent graduate school adventures….I am increasingly convinced that the “mother” discipline is rhetoric (defined in my mind and for my purposes here as the deep understanding of and facile use of language). In fact, it is the fountain from which all other understandings and worldviews spring (or are at least firmly rooted). Yep, I mean the “hard sciences” as well. There is absolutely no escape from the harness of text & the narrative. The proficient use of language (which ever one is born to or learns later or as a part of cultural upbringing) is critical to make possible understanding and being understood – and thus under girds much of what we call learning. And as I become increasingly more rooted in social media enabled through technology I am daily struck by the extent to which text mediates our interactions. Think of bloggers, twitterers, text messaging, instant messaging, Wikipedia, all of the web in all of its glory.
Okay, before the remixers and mashup experts are all over me, I recognize that much on the web is now embellished and illustrated with rich media. I certainly do not discount that. But for me, the text is key. There it is, what I would study if I could.
Wait a minute….I can study and understand this rhetoric NOW! Through the rich media available through my ever-expanding personal learning network (more about that later).
I have much more to say about this, the ideas are still cooking. I am not sure where it might take me. But what would I do if I could start over? I’d study language and rhetoric.