Thanks to Shawn White above for cursing me with the task in the link above. I don’t necessarily think of a curse as an entirely bad thing. It is more of an applied constraint that begs the question, “Now how will you manage?”
Here is now Shawn defined the task:
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers.
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
- Please share with me a link to your response.
Eleven Random Facts About Me
1. I have been raising sheep in a holler in central Kentucky for about a quarter of a century.
2. I have met Wendell Berry. I was working on a dairy in Henry County on a sweat equity deal that eventually went very sour. I was tasked to haul a draft mare to Berry’s farm near Port Royal on the Kentucky River. He was quite a jerk over the phone and not very nice when I got there. I don’t know what his problem was that day, but this was a man who had inspired me to move closer to the land with his writing and poetry. It was a bit of a letdown to be treated so shabbily. Maybe someone had been kicking his dog, maybe that is his private persona. He treated me like hired help. I forgive him but I have not forgotten. Fame fucks you up.
3. My wife and I unschooled all three of our children. They are all adults now and among the most interesting people I know–intellectually curious, full of spirit and courage, helpful to a fault, and the kind to have at your back in any kind of fight. We unschooled at a time and place anathema to it where I live. We fought the powers that wannabe hard. We won.
4. Yet I have taught at public schools and universities for twenty years. Render unto Mammon, etc.
5. I was a chimney sweep and repair tech for ten years. It was the most lucrative and dispositive learning of my entire life. I have never worked harder, learned more, risked more, and lived more than during those years. I am glad they are behind me, but they are the well-spring of much of the confidence that had been squeezed from me by K-College. I found out that with the help of others I could make a living, raise a family, pay for a farm, and otherwise be a useful adult. I still have the chimney chapeau and I still heat with wood.
6. Speaking of wood. I once had an absolutely perfect split of a huge sycamore round. Why is this random fact so telling? First, sycamore is a bear to split. Second, a perfect split on any large round of wood is not commonplace for me. By perfect split I mean that I swung my maul ten times into the wood and got eleven flitches to use in the stove. Third, when I was done all the pieces radiated from the center. Perfection. My work.
7. I met Stephen Downes once and we didn’t talk about MOOCs or online education.
8. The poet William Meredith once told me a first hand story about Robert Frost. I had written him an homage to a collection of his poems, The Wreck of the Thresher and Other Poems. Unknown to me at the time, but later related to me, Meredith had written similarly of Frost in his senior thesis. He told me the same thing Frost told him: “It will not do to look too closely in the mirror unless you are shaving.” Now I am telling you.
A Major Work
Poems are hard to read
Pictures are hard to see
Music is hard to hear
And people are hard to love
But whether from brute need
Or divine energy
At last mind eye and ear
And the great sloth heart will move.
9. I once spent a summer on a thoroughbred farm that my brother ran near Lexington, KY, Darby Dan Farm, and my duties included filling in the holes dug by, bar none, the craziest animal I have ever known–the famous thoroughbred stud, Roberto. Every day he dug holes three feet across and a foot or so deep and every day I filled them in. So nutty was he, that the paddock fence was solid wood ten feet high. He could not abide another stallion and he hated every human but one old man who could work with him.
10. I have met every Kentucky governor since Happy Chandler (albeit he was very retired when I met him.)
11. I can cut a hole in a 3X5 card that is big enough to fit my head into.
Eleven Questions to Answer
1. If you could remove one thing or idea from our world, what would it be and why?
I would remove the idea that you have to make people learn. Why? Because that idea is the greatest impediment right now to encouraging the natural curiosity of every human being.
2. Where do you hope to be professionally in ten, twenty years and are you currently progressing toward that stage?
Ten years: I want to be a learning concierge for the emerging model of the auto-didactic, networked learner.Twenty years: I want to have been a major contributor to the banishment of the words classroom, textbook, teacher, and student from the learning lexicon.
I am working on becoming an ad hoc learning concierge in my classes and on my blogs. I am working with interns to help them become autodidacts.
3. What is one of the more significant trends in pedagogy right now and how do you foresee it progressing in the future?
Unschooling. It will be the way we learn in a networked, node dominated learning ecosystem.
4. What is a favorite quote of yours and can you please share your interpretation of it and why it is a favorite?
What you must do is go back, get a simple place, move in and you are there. The situation is there. You start with this and let it grow. You know your goal. It will build its own structure and takes its own form. You can go to school your whole life, you’ll never figure it out because you are trying to get an answer that can only come from the people in the life situation
Myles Horton, The Long Haul, 55.
This quote is at the core of my learning philosophy. Its beauty is in the realization that learning comes from the situation and it grows there. It emerges. I found this to be true of every powerful learning in my own life–parenthood, running a business, putting on a play, farming, facilitating a MOOC. It fits. And its evil opposite is schooling, prescribed and proscribed textbooks of inert knowing, curricula. These do not grow. Not can they be said to have grown in any organic sense. Nor will they ever grow.
5. You are presented the opportunity to spend a full day doing whatever you want with any three people in the world. Who are the three people and what is the itinerary?
My companions would be Ivan Illich, Alfred Whitehead, and John Holt. We will take a day hike in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge and our sole question will be this: how shall we help others to learn?
6. Is there evil in the human condition, in this world? Please explain.
There is evil everywhere that Truth with a big ‘T’ is the one ‘Precious’. Even truth with a small ‘t’ can be a devastation to the one who holds it too fiercely.
7. You can have any super power you want. What power and why?
I think I would like to have the power to compute complexity. I would be able to look at a set of initial conditions and be able to predict what will happen. I don’t want enough detail to allow me to win the Lottery, but I would like to be afforded the capacity to know what some of the emerging futures might be so that we can eliminated the ugliest of the unknown unknowns and the most dangerous of the Black Swans.
8. Do you choose an iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, or old-school Nokia cellular phone and why?
Android Moto G. While the word ‘open’ is a highly charged particle these days, I feel the adjacent possibles for it as an operating system outstrip the ‘reliability’ of Apple or Windows. Chaordics rule
9. What is the next item on your bucket list you aim to achieve?
I want to create apps for a learning concierge network, a home for self-learners to take from the buffet of learnings in order to make.
10. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How?
What came first was the awareness that there were chickens and eggs-language. Therein lies it curse and its benediction.
11. Children are… (complete the sentence or paragraph).
… the greatest learners who ever lived and any attempt to improve them is doomed to fail. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but my experience of unschooling in my family is a pretty good fit for that hyperbole.
Eleven Questions to Answer (your choice from the eighteen provided)
- If you could remove one thing or idea from our world, what would it be and why?
- Where do you hope to be professionally in ten, twenty years and are you currently progressing toward that stage?
- What is one of the more significant trends in pedagogy right now and how do you foresee it progressing in the future?
- What is a favorite quote of yours and can you please share your interpretation of it and why it is a favorite?
- You are presented the opportunity to spend a full day doing whatever you want with any three people in the world. Who are the three people and what is the itinerary?
- Is there evil in the human condition, in this world? Please explain.
- You can have any super power you want. What power and why?
- Do you choose an iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, or old-school Nokia cellular phone and why?
- What is the next item on your bucket list you aim to achieve?
- Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How?
- Children are… (complete the sentence or paragraph).
- If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What is your favorite game/sport to play? When did you discover it?
- Desert island playlist or music (limit 10 pieces). Books (limit 10)?
- What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done? The result?
- What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken in your life? How did it work out?
- What teacher had the biggest impact on your life? How did they impact you? Does this teacher know the impact they had on you?
- What is your proudest moment as an educator?
Eleven educators to carry on