Of Bike Riding and Mutiny

7 Jul

Last night I happened to catch a bit of The Bounty with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, and Liam Nesson. They all look like kids, even Hopkins. Given the recent events in ds106 it seemed appropriate that the movie presented itself before me.

I wonder what kind of good questions we can ask about a mutiny? Do we simply banish all the others to some small boat and set them adrift as Jim Groom would have us believe? Is there a reconciliation that can occur that allows for both parties to rule in some fashion? What are the smart questions to ask at a point like this?

And from the pedagogy perspective, what are the benefits of students taking control in this fashion? Are there any? One question I am very interested in is whether or not this sort of event, in whole or part, can be used or manipulated by an instructor to the benefit of the class. There exists that wonderful line between chaos that is unproductive and an imbalance that creates and stirs the imagination.

How can instructors bring classes to that frightening place  in a way that does not make the students run for cover? How can an instructor allow students to control just enough so that they in fact are creating their own destiny (coursework) but still have a hand in orchestrating the path they take into content?

How much do we trust the students? John Holt in speaking about students had something to say about teachers as well:

All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.

I was able to take kids biking in Utah and there were many instances where I had the choice, as the instructor, to allow students to take they trail they wanted to or ride down the one I had selected. They of course always wanted to ride down the more frightening trails and leap over larger jumps. Do I let them or no? No pain no gain, right?

Well, most often I allowed them to chart their own course and try things that challenged them. Sometimes it hurt.


2 Responses to “Of Bike Riding and Mutiny”

  1. Alan Liddell July 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    And you’re right, sometimes it does hurt. But no pain, no gain, right? Why is Jim Groom provoking insurrection? To what purpose? For what greater good?

    …In Jim we trust. It’s in his hands. Always has been.

    • Todd Conaway July 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      It could be that Jim Groom is intentionally pushing us away so that we can discover for ourselves the challenge of leadership, the challenges or finding self-direction in learning, and the need for us to take responsibility for our own educational situations. Or at least take some steps in that direction.

      It is like a parent pushing kids out of the nest.

      One of my favorite books, Illusions, by Richard Bach has this to say about letting go of stuff:

      “But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

      The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed against the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

      But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

      Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.”

      A bit more of that is here: http://members.cox.net/mppowers1/lettinggo.html

      Maybe we are just getting smashed and tumbled….

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