Sometimes the difficult thing of being a teacher is that you don’t have all the answers, but you feel you are supposed to. Fortunately in IDE we have a different appraoch. But still there is always enough space for self-doubt when you are trying to do things right. I’ve been planned in for more tha 110% and to avoid the brink of burn-out that I was on last year, I am not doing as much of my tasks a would normally do. So in theory it sounds OK, I’ve agreed with my manager that I can’t do everything to my normal quality standards and in that way stay sane at work. But then there is still stuff niggling me, about not deliverign my usual quality. I can really see that in my blog comments. I’ve been writing them one after the other and they are full of typos. (When I get tired I alsways make loads more typos) I can’t spend even more time on giving comments. But then I would comment of students if they have lots of typos in their posts because it is sloppy and looks as if they don’t really care about their blogds. But I am all about walking the talk, practicing what you preach. Sometimes it’s just not that easy. Well anyway, it teaches me empathy with the students and their stress. There is always somethign to learn!
My teams are working for PAGe http://www.carolinapage.org/ which aims to help girls. Quite naturally the question “Why just girls?” came up. In the discussion I heard different arguments. On example was “girls are more distracted when there are boys around” which is something that I normally would like to challenge and discuss more about. Upon reflecting I was wondering why I didn’t stir up the discussion more in the classroom. Did I just want the students to focus on the task at hand and not be sidetracked into a long discussion? Was I afraid that there were too many different opnions and cultural backgrounds in the room and it wouldn’t be a good idea to ‘stir the pot’ ? Or was I thinking that it is not our place to challenge the foundations of our clients organisation? I’m still thinking about it. But I do think it is a not an issue to bury and not talk about any more. For myself I am still not sure if am pro or con ‘positive discrimination’ in general.
Sometimes TV helps to reflect. I started to watch the Bletchley circle series recently. About a group of very intelligent women that were on a decoding team during WWII and after the war they were put back into the roles that society then saw fit for women. But then one of them saw a pattern in a series of murders and they started workign on it. Watching the series I keep being shocked at the position of women at that time. And my grandmother was young during the war so that’s not that far away. It’s great that we find equal positions for men and women the norm in society and live by that. But it’s also good to acknowledge that that’s not always reality. I hope that we will have interesting further talks on this issue in the future…
So yesterday I was on my bike on my way home from work thinking about blogging and about grading blogs. The thing that came into mind was ”clarity of writing’ . I find it really important and also thnk that it is an impotant skill for all of your career. (I have been reading some graduation reports that lack clarity and don’t do justice to the projects). To me clarity of writing is closely related to clarity of thinking. While writing, you turn things ove rin your head. Hell, merely putting vague thoughts into sentences with a beginning and end already clarifies your thinking. When grading blogs it can be more difficult to poitn out unclarity of thinking, because it can be part of the style or personality of the blog to not be that clear. But still I will try to give good feedback on it. In my mind, while on my bike or in the shower I have already written uncountable blogs and letters that never ended up in actual writing but did help clear up my thinking. And then the other thing that I hope to see in the blogs is a personal touch and development. Last Friday I was at the wedding of my brother. He and his girlfrien dhave been together for 17 years already adn during the party some pictures from during those 17years were put on a big screen. That was so endearing to see their development from drinking partying teenagers to drinking partying responsinle adults ;-) I guess that’s what I am most looking forward to again this school year, seeing the development of the students from confusiast starters to capable young designers!
. ps is saying ‘Hell’ in a blog post acceptable language? Please comment if you think it isn’t
Yeay! We’re back in business with project communities. It will be so great to delve deep into our confusiasm again. First word of advice to all designers and innovators to be: follow James Victore’s burning questions. He kind of says the same things we want to and will say to you over time; but he just says it every week, and he answers questions you maybe didn’t even know you had, with that lovely New Yorker bluntness.
It’s the last post! No not that last post associated with a picture like above. But like that last post, this is an emotional goodbye. (Just to be clear, I have great respect for all men and women in the services. I just don’t respect the masters of war http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvr72uTd7kc )
Project communities has been one hell of a ride and although sometimes stressful I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I want to thank all colleagues and students but especially Nancy and Laura for all their work and patience.
What I liked is that both groups asked feedback on their video with less than 24 hours before the deadline. This is always a difficult thing to do , because you have just worked very hard and you are tired and don’t really want to change anything anymore. But you did ask and I pointed out some things and you did go that extra mile to make it better. So kudos to all of you and keep that up as a good habit.
As a first project we can see the ways of working and culture of this year group develop, What I really enjoyed is that we are starting to develop a culture were students are helping each other in their learnng and do a lot of their work in area 51.
For my groups: I’ll also give some direct feedback in the Facebook group pages.
I really learned a lot and I am immediately applying my learnings. For the minor smart life rhythms that I am teaching next module I am asking the project teams to report in a weekly blog. It makes sure there is weekly progress and it means that they don’t have to write a report in the end but can focus on building their solution.
I am also very happy that my dear old friend Sheila was very happy with the result.
I really hope to be able to join in the project again next year and am looking forward to another steep learning curve then!
Iris van Herpen is a great designer. She won both the fashion award and the overall award of last week’s Dutch Design Week. She happens to be my cousin and we are all really proud of her. I love her work and it’s easy to feel proud of her for producing it. But I am even more proud of her for her focus on her work and how she is always deciding for herself what she thinks is important and what not. She could be on television way more often if she wanted to (and which PR people will tell her is good for her). But she focuses on her work instead. I wish for great succes for all of my students, but most of all I wish for them be able to stay true to themselves.
It was great to have a week off. I have still worked very hard around the house as we’ve moved the boys from 1 room into 2 rooms. But I definitely needed a break from the university. Too much workand not enough time, it’s one of those things. The wake-up call for me was during our last hang-out. One student made a comment that he thought a question in the assignment sounded like a question from 3 years ago. My own first thought was “Come on, discrediting a question because you are too lazy to really look into it, those tactics might work in high school or when you catch me unawares maybe, but can you please start acting like a mature student and not like a ….” But Nancy handled it perfectly, at the same time explaining the question very well and putting the student in his place in a mild way. That made me realise that if I had answered that question I would just have shown my annoyance, and nobody would have really learned anything from it. One of the side effects of stress for me is a very low irritation treshhold. When it’s hard to get rid of the stress, I try to remind myself to be generous. Because after all it’s not just about the results but very much about the way in which we achieve them. And to my amazement ‘be generous’ was one of the 7 learnings of the composer of my favourite newsletter: Brainpickings: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/10/23/7-lessons-from-7-years/ . The next 3 weeks will be again very stressful and I will be reminding myself to try and be generous. Generous to my students, colleagues, family and also to myself!
On Wednesday I will present project communities during a workshop on blended learning. Blended learning means integrating ICT-enabled learning with live learning. The most common way of doing that is letting students watch (lecture) videos before the class and doing practical work under guidance during the class.
But in project communities we’re have a very different type of “Will it blend?”. And I am reflecting on what part of our specific blend it would be good to point out as valuable to the participants in the workshop. So far:
1) The hang-out meetings, specifically the recording in combination with the meetingwords. Yes it took some time to make it smooth but I think the way we can get Nancy and Alan involved is really quite amazing.
2) The blogging. Maybe not every student is as active, but it really sparks more dynamics and openness than just the offline conversations. I am generally not a big fan of forced reflections, but this works guys!
3) Confusiasm. (Which has nothing to do with Confucius). So you got thrown in the deep end. Do you want to discuss about the fairness of that or do you want to start swimming?
But these are just my first thoughts. Please tell me what is it that is essential to project communities that I should share in the blended learning workshop?