Richard, Mark, Darrell, Sheila, and Arvo

I spent part of yesterday listening to Richard Tognetti.
Richard appeared on Radio National’s Music Show here in Australia. He was discussing nerves, fear and fallibility in music performance. I liked the idea that we can give in to little mistakes, trust in what we have learned … and in Richard’s terms be “match brave”.
I thought it was an excellent insight into the dynamics of public performance. I enjoyed the comparison of big wave surfing and conducting Ravel for the first time.
Two alerts this morning extended my thinking about public performance. The first was about a Mark Upton post on Medium.
I have had the good fortune to know Mark for some time. I am fascinated by his polymath understanding of performance and particularly enjoy his thinking out loud approach to sharing.
Today’s post was titled The Value of “Working Out Loud” and subtitled My Journey Understanding Practice Design and Learning. The post was based around some ideas Mark shared six years ago.
This time round, Mark has shared his thoughts by thinking out loud, of which he observes:

Working out loud in a public forum requires a unique form of courage – to embrace vulnerability and humility. These characteristics may underpin “expert learning” (?) and having people of this ilk in coaching and support roles seems vital in helping players and athletes be their best.

I agree in all respects.
Posts written by Mark help all of us reflect on our practice. I see this willingness to share through blogging as a vital contribution to rethinking learning.
Darrell Cobner added to my reading this morning. He is a great companion to Mark in my thinking about performance. He is an assiduous connector and most days his recommendations take me off on a journey of discovery.
This morning he linked Mark and me with Sheila MacNeill.

Sheila started to blog because “I was told to”. She notes:

It did take me a while to find my blogging voice, but I am so glad that I did because my blog has become a central part of my working practice. More importantly for me it is actually my professional memory/portfolio.  If something significant happens I will blog about it.  Blogging is a bit of a habit for me, and as any writer knows, getting into and staying in the habit of writing is crucial.

She adds:

One of the reasons I blog is that it allows me to write in a very informal, non academic way.  I am the first to admit that my blog lacks academic rigor. That’s one of the main reasons I keep it going.  It is a really comfortable place for me to start to play around with ideas, and to tell my stories.

I see this story telling as a fundamental way to connect not only in education but in sport too. Sheila and Mark took me back to some ideas about narrative I was exploring in 1998:
I had in mind an approach that sought integration and that used insights from writers such as Elliot Eisner and Donal Polkinhorne.
I see the quality of blogging output from Mark, Darrell and Sheila to be characteristic of the art of connoisseurship advocated by Elliot:

Connoisseurship is something that needs to be worked at – but it is not a technical exercise. The bringing together of the different elements into a whole involves artistry.

It involves the willingness to have a public voice. I see blogging as a vital part of this voice. I explored some of the issues about blogging in this 2012 post.
My morning ended as it had started with music. The Conversation published a delightful piece by Frederic Kiernan on Arvo Pärt.
This paragraph caught my attention:

Pärt created music with an eerie, mystical stillness. His compositional method “tintinnabuli”, an original invention, was so named for the bell-like quality of its resulting triadic harmonies.

Whenever I listen to Arvo Pärt, I am struck by the music within the music in his compositions. I understand that I am hearing keynotes and triads when I listen to his music. This is Peter Phillips on Arvo’s music:

These are the kind of journeys thinking out loud and sharing make possible for me.
Thinking out loud, without any obligation for anyone to read or listen to my thoughts, is liberating. Like Mark, Darrell and Sheila, I do think “We need to be our own digital storytellers”.
Digital sharing gives us the opportunity to develop polysemic stories. Such stories resonate with David White and Alison Le Cornu’s (2011) view of the activities of digital residents (quoted by David Jones in a recent post). Digital residents:

see the Web as a place, perhaps like a park or a building in which there are clusters of friends and colleagues whom they can approach and with whom they can share information about their life and work. A proportion of their lives is actually lived out online where the distinction between online and off–line is increasingly blurred. Residents are happy to go online simply to spend time with others and they are likely to consider that they ‘belong’ to a community which is located in the virtual…To Residents, the Web is a place to express opinions, a place in which relationships can be formed and extended.

Much of my time (everywhen) is spent in the blurred space “between online and off–line”. I am delighted that I am joined by Richard, Mark, Darrell, Sheila and Arvo in this blurring.

Photo Credits

Mavericks Big Waves (Robert Scoble, CC BY 2.0)
Met Tilt Shift (Hey Tiffany!, CC BY 2.0)


    • Thank you, Sheila. I have admired your writing for a long time so it was delightful to have an opportunity to write about you.


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