The title of this book, which is taken from a poem of Albert Machado, for which Joan Manuel Serrat took inspiration to write his song ‘caminante no hay camino’ (walker there is not a path) is remarkably meaningful for me as it tells the story of the last 5 years of my life. I left my home country looking for freedom and agency. Looking for my essence. In this long walk, there has certainly been no trail marked for me, I had to open my own. And as Machado says in his poem:
caminante son tus huellas el camino y nada mas, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar, y al andar se hace camino y al volver la vista atras se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar. Caminante no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar
Saying, that the road is nothing else but your footprints. There is not such a thing as a footpath, one makes the road by walking, and in that walking, you make the road, and when you look back, you see that road that you will never walk again.
And yes, I believe we make a footpath while we walk searching for our essence, for who we are and more than that, we are the trailblazers of our destiny. This reading will be part of my path.
Ideas that have caught my attention:
- Formal education prepares people to live in a system, the prevailed system, i.e. capitalism. Institutions block freedom creating this incredible contradiction of educating people that cannot move out of the system, perpetuating it and its pitfalls. I think this book is a conversation of alternatives to escape that. In the case of Hyghlander School, the idea of Myles was to make the experiences of their students the building blocks of the curriculum. This reminds me David Cromier’s idea of Rhizomatic learning, the community is the curriculum. Myles says: Students analyse their experience by storytelling and reflecting about an experience leads to change, or at least it is the beginning of change. Although they are talking here about adult education, I ask myself how can this idea be extrapolated to children or young people education.
- The main goal for both, Freire and Horton, was supporting people in the process of finding their freedom. They had a radical democratic belief in the capacity and right of all people to achieve that freedom through self-emancipation. This has much in common with my idea of fostering agency, so students can pursue what they want and have the knowledge, skills and attitude to do so. The concept of freedom I am using in my work is the one by Sen and (here) and Marta Nussbaum. They have developed the human capability approach where freedom and agency are addressed in a holistic manner.
- Both believed that participation is the means to freedom and educational practice ought to be seen as both liberatory and participatory. In a way, I think, it allows students to embody participation in education, and this way of learning could then be a means to participate in society involving the people themselves in the creation of their own knowledge. Much of this is argued when talking about the benefits of open practice.
- These ideas grew from the struggle the authors had to connect theory and practice, which is still a struggle nowadays. All the brilliant ideas about OEP and OEP are a response to the unconnected theory and practice. We need to see how we can, through OEP, uncover and critically analyse the power structures that are once again doing their best to keep those structures that protect their power. This hopefully is among the aims of the OEGlobal conference in South Africa next year where I am presenting my ideas about how personal learning spaces are open context created by the learner but at the same time, they are part of open practices.
- The main objective was linking participatory education to liberation and social change. Asking questions about the role of the student, the teacher and the organisation. How is education linked to mobilisation and culture to create a new society? Can society transform education or must education first be transformed?
I can see in their ideas much of the basic tenets of socio-cultural activity theory the theoretical approach I am using for my research.
What I see with this ‘movement’ of OEP is an attempt to transform education. My argument is that for that to happen, students need to have the skills, the knowledge and the attitude, an explorer mindset, I call it, so that they can harness the affordance of the digital revolution. Following Freire and Horton’s ideas, learning needs to happen through participation. How can we design learning for this digital participation to happen? The question of the microcosmos is important. Which is a suitable, ideal microcosmos where students can enact digital skills? It will be through satisfying that need that they will learn. This needs further elaboration, for now, I will leave it as it is because I will never hit the publish button.
How can we design learning experiences for this digital participation to happen? The question of the microcosmos is important. Which is a suitable, ideal microcosmos where students can enact digital skills through critical participation thus emancipation. This needs further elaboration, for now, I will leave it as it is because I will never hit the publish button.