Learning in the wild and open, like Skywhales -#Blimage

love + passion + research + craft + creativity + adaptation + challenge 

I was invited last week to give a seminar at the NUIGalway by @catherincronin. The Arts Festival was running that week, and we went together to RelativityPatricia Piccini’s exhibition.

Later in the week I went to hear her talk about another piece of art she had created, the Skywhale, which is the one in the picture, this time in Galway’s landscape 🙂

This #blimage post is inspired by this talk.

She said things that I relate with what educators are experiencing within this cultural shift. She explained that whales are mammals, and normally mammals are animals that live on land but somehow this special creatures have adapted to a different environment, namely the sea. Patricia has gone further, she has in her creation, brought whales up to the air in the form of a balloon!

We, as educators, have lived most of our lives in a closed and safe environment: the classroom, where we had fixed resources to teach deciding what and how to teach it. The classroom, as a safe closed space-the land of mammals- has been changing dramatically and educators and even learners, are adapting to this new open digital ecosystem, an ecology of abundance-the sea- which is not only different because it is digital but also because it is an open and wild space, as the sea. We need different skills to adapt to this new environment, to evolve like whales did in order to move at ease in this new fluid space, where boundaries are sometimes unclear and difficult to identify.

Fluidity is a new condition that characterises modern times, as Bauman brilliantly puts it:

(…) fluids do not keep to any shape for long and are constantly ready (and prone) to change it; and so for them it is the flow of time that counts, more than the space they happen to occupy; that space, after all, they fill but  ‘for a moment’

Whales are dynamic and mobile when swimming and splashing, giving us a magic sensation of lightness despite their huge dimensions. This agility is what I argue educators need to develop, always ready to embrace change, maybe not knowing all the answers nor the path to go, but accepting the challenge to adapt and flow in the open and wild sea, finding clues and daring to take risks. 

We need to understand how to embrace the wild and the open, how to manage our vulnerability when we curate, remix and share our ideas, which are some times still in the making but ready to be seen, therefore to be criticised. In the open we are much more exposed and it would be desirable to learn how to cope with this. We ought to embrace this new culture in which our students are growing up, but where many of us are late comers, with lungs instead of gills. It is a scary task but unavoidable in order to adapt and rearrange to become Skywhales, agile educators of the future!

Piccini said: 

I wanted it to be an artwork that took advantage of the opportunities that the balloon form offered

I think this is what educators ought to do: take advantage of the opportunities that this new digital and technology-mediated world has to offer and transform our former structures maybe, from solid to liquid! 

And if we live long enough we will need to adapt again and again. From the land to the sea and up to the sky! 

3 thoughts on “Learning in the wild and open, like Skywhales -#Blimage

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