Simultaneities and Synchronicities: I Learn by Going Where I Need to Go

tl;dr:  Stuff happens in threes, simultaneously. This post explores the three times three of synchronicity

Does this happen to you online, these weird synchronicities of three?

First, I got a notification that there was a new Android app for WordPress.  I need to live more in the mobile world my students live in especially now that phones are so extensible, so powerful, so engaged in the distributed net. I need to live where they live.

Second, I ran across this very interesting article by Inge de Waard about something called “WMUTE design (Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education).” More on this in a bit, suffice to say it is a a dense dig to find the rough diamonds. At least it is proving such for me.

Third, my friend Maha was tweeting about what to do next online and I see that she is also beginning to post online via mobile.

The thread that runs so true and through? Mobile connection as system, mobile systems as learning spaces, mobile systems as living spaces? “Mobile” seems to be the Grand Attractor?

So I went outside.  It’s what I always do when I am drowned by the profusion of the net. I am driven to move into a larger, slower, deeper and more profoundly simultaneous system.  Nature or Gaia or the Mother or the Father.  Name matters not.  I just step into a vision in a rain barrel


or the fuse of life that through a brown garden burns


or in a squall of birds flying over in the blue pall of a November morning.

The animated gif and the still photo and the video above are connected through my mobile device and through the blog and with the three seemingly synchronous digital events above into this seamless (or what seem to be seamless) being, this post.

I pull a book off the shelf.

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Davis and Sumara. They are a reminder of my abortive attempt at a doctorate, but I remember something vague about simultaneity that I read there.

The word simultaneity refers to events or phenomena that exist or operate at the same time. It is used here as a contrast to the modern and Western habit of thinking in terms of discontinuities around such matters as theory and practice, knowers and knowledge, self and other, mind and body, art and science, and child and curriculum.

Davis, Brent, and Dennis J. Sumara. Complexity and Education: Inquiries Into Learning, Teaching, and Research. Psychology Press, 2006. Print.

There are some pretty awesome charts in the Davis and Sumara book that I didn’t wanted to reproduce here.  Instead I have grabbed some from another source that makes the same point. The three graphs point out the growing cognitive complexity of TV crime shows.



Old school TV discontinuity, plot as strictly chronological.

Simultaneous and multiple narratives, fuzzy borders.

Simultaneous and multiple narratives, fuzzy borders.

Multiple threads layered one atop the other, truly synchronous.

Multiple threads layered one atop the other, truly synchronous.

Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” The New York Times 24 Apr. 2005. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Inside and outside. Atop and below. Helixes of stories in simultaneous and seamless connection. Online and off. Is there a new story being born here? What is my point? Life imitates nature?  Nature mimics life?  I think it is time to return to de Waard and her article about WMUTE design (Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education).  The term of art she uses is ‘seamlessness’.  Mobile learning is giving us the chance, all of us, to live a new way of learning.

Seamless learning is still a new area, and the challenges are multiple. As this discipline merges the technological and human challenges faced by the emerging new technologies of the last decade (mobile learning, social media, MOOCs, etc.), it is becoming clear that the ultimate learning environment will have to provide a smooth learner experience, with options to both consume and create content. It is a bit of unexplored territory.

Hyperbolic understatement much?

I have been thinking of all that has happened in the last year in my own “not so very” seamless learning experiences.  It has been a simultaneous and synchronicitous layering of MOOC’s and makings and social media. Now I am working toward the mobile part. I sense that it is the ‘click’ piece,

Maha is wondering, “What next?”  It is an ultimate question we should all ask as we move through whatever season in whatever hemisphere in whatever country we live in. Perhaps the answer is already moving from one bit of informal learning toward another, from MOOCs to makes to mobilities.  Omne trium perfectum.  All threes complete. 

As a lit teacher  I cannot help but feel the emotional tercets of a Theodore Roethke villanelle, drawing toward the powerful, seamless conclusion:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go.


Teaching Stories and Mindfully Learning



“Be mindful to your teaching story. Always learning. Always growing.”


I celebrate the idea of being conscious of your teaching story. Here is one about my lost wallet.

In all my years of owning a wallet I had only lost it once before (and that was at a restaurant where I met my in-laws for the first time–yeah, first impressions, not. ) Yes,  I had good wallet habits yet I lost it in my morning walk from car to office.  I did not realize it was lost until after my last class of the day. I had no hopes for recovering it, but I waited a bit before I  doing the manic, St. Vitus Day, cancel the credit cards dance.

The next morning I got an email from a former student of mine saying that she had found the wallet and would I like to pick it up.  All the money and cards and irreplaceable ephemera and cruft of lots of years was undisturbed in there when I got it back. Happy day and rewards all around and karma generated by the kilo.

So, my story is just another example of the Golden Rule: teach as if someone you are helping might find your lost wallet someday (or change your IV or keep an eye on your kid or make your dinner). Teach humanely, thankfully, and humbly.  It is its own reward, but…it can’t hurt to do so just in case you lose your wallet.  This is not the first time karma has reared it rollicking buddha laugh in my teaching life, nor will it be the last.

One last think.  One of the ways to be a mindful teacher is to constantly remind yourself of what your teaching stories are.  Maybe I need get that first tattoo for that permanent reminder.