This was the week what wuz. A week of strategy in the classroom that boils down to this: my map, their territory. Humbling.
My students asked me for a map of the semester and the image above is what I drew for them. Then I pointed out to them that the map is not the territory. We spent a few minutes messing up this flattened representation of the course timeline, noting waystations and places where tickets get punched. Then began the acknowledging of the actual, stratified rhizomatic root ball of their territories.
Each of their other university courses are layered atop and through this map, each of their working lives interlaced, their personal lives fusing it all together. We discover that my map is not their territory. The smoke is not the fire: the wake is not the ship. We talked a bit about this idea and then I asked them if we had done what needed to do with the map. An eerie quiet descended.
Above are the notes I made to myself that morning before I taught. They sustain me as I try to move from script to improv and back again. I never did get around to making the connection from the map to a “choose your own adventure game”, an allusion you can see in the pic above where it is cut off next to the arrow that points to the right from “SUMMARY”. I think that turning the map into a game board is worth considering–research project as game board.
The reference in the image above, “Presencing & Feedforwarding”, is an idea I have been playing with since last summer. I borrowed it from Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge as well as Marshall Goldsmith. They are now a guided journal exercise I do at the beginning of every semester for my composition classes. Below is one that our community is using this semester. It is actually my response to the exercise I am asking them to do for Monday’s class. I found it refreshing. I plan on returning to this on a daily basis as I work through the semester.
The 2-D map above does need some cleaning up and some layers of explanation. It could be the entire syllabus if I used something like Thinglink to add depth to it. As you wish.
On Friday I drew another “map” of sorts on the board as seen in the video below. I mapped it further with my digital friend, Thinglink, using their video annotation capabilities. You can pause and click on the blue tags as they pop up if you wish.
Conclusions? I realized something from this reflective exercise. There is a delicate balance between my map and their territory. As Nick Sousanis describes in his graphic philosophy text, Unflattening, I am seeking out not a single, distinct vantage point, but one that is joined in dialog with others and not merely side-by-side…
In a Google Hangout on Air a couple of weeks ago Daniel Bassill and Simon Ensor and I talked about mentoring and working with youth and the one charge we gave each other was to come back for our next “picnic” with some strategies. This post is one of my attempts to be transparent about my strategies, about what I do and how I do it and why I do it and whether what I do engages or enrages or something else. This has been fun. In no way does it capture the territory that is my teaching, but it does throw down a map for others to check out and use if they wish as part of their own travels in the undiscovered country that is the Gordian rhizome of their lives. By the map, this map is a doozy to refold.