Guy Griffith

Earlier today I wrote about A Guide to the Classics: or How to Pick the Derby Winner (1936). My post focused on one of the authors of the book, Michael Oakeshott.

The co-author was a colleague of Michael’s at Cambridge, Guy Thomson Griffith (1908-1975).

I thought I ought to redress the balance to find out more about Guy.

The most information I could find about him is an obituary (1986) written in the Proceedings of the British Academy. Guy’s photograph comes from there too.

Guy was a  Classics scholar at Gonville and Caius College from 1926. He was awarded a first class degree with distinction in Ancient history  which was essential to win a University studentship and undertake research. He became a research fellow in 1931. His doctoral research was on The Greek Soldier of Fortune. In 1935, he published The Mercenaries of the Hellenic World.

Nicholas Hammond‘s obituary has this information:

One remembers life in a Cambridge college in the mid-1930s as very enjoyable and relatively leisurely. During the racing season Griffith devoted two hours a day to the study of form and breeding, and he and his closest friend in caius, Michael oakesott, then a bachelor Fellow, went together to the races often at Newmarket and once at Epsom for the Derby and at Ascot. In 1936 they published a book which was remarkable both for its expert knowledge and for its humour and elegance: A Guide to the Classics – or how to pick the Derby winner. … a new edition was published in 1947 with the title A New Guide to the Derby: how to pick the winner. ‘All the learning was Guy’s’, wrote Oakeshott, and learning was the right word, for it was based on fundamental research, pursued over more than a decade.

Nicholas notes that Guy was successful in his horse betting career:

His winnings on the turf, we understood, enabled him to indulge his taste in vintage cars, as in vintage claret.

Guy became a University lecturer in 1937. During the War he was an air traffic controller in the RAF Volunteer reserve.

At the end of the war he returned to the University and was involved in Classics teaching and research for the next four decades.

He died in Papworth Hospital on 10 September 1985.

Photo Credit

Guy Griffith (Proceedings of the British Academy)

Forums and Agency

A photograph taken of a sign advertising Australia's largest living hedge maze in Bright, Victoria.

I have had a number of conversations in the last month about how online communities share ideas and practices.

My thoughts about sharing responsibility in online communities were forged in my experiences of the open, online course CCK08 and extended by the publication of Digital Habitats (2009).

In Digital Habitats, Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John Smith discuss technology stewardship and propose this definition:

Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs and enough experience with or interest in technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewarding typically includes selecting and configuring technology as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community. (2009:25)

The keyword for me in this definition is ‘leadership’. I have tried to provide this leadership in a number of open, online courses I have facilitated. My aim has been to create an invitational environment that inducts participants into open sharing. I understand that this open sharing is not for everyone but the role of stewarding and driving a community is too important to be left to chance.

My current interests in online communities is being extended by a University’s use of Basecamp and a group of sport coaches using Edufii. Both communities appear to be flourishing with a wide range of contributors and sensitive responses to others. Both groups have peripheral participants who benefit from these exchanges.

One of the topics for conversation about forums in the last month has involved two separate organisations who point to the limited number of volunteers available to act as stewards and drivers in their online communities.

These conversations were brought into focus today in a Stephen Downes alert to a revision to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on shared agency.

The entry starts with these lines:

Sometimes individuals act together, and sometimes they act independently of one another. It’s a distinction that matters. You are likely to make more headway in a difficult task working with others; and even if little progress is made, there’s at least the comfort and solidarity that comes with a collective undertaking.

I think this relates to ideas and practices as well as tasks.

The Stanford entry encouraged me to think about shared responsibilities in forums and how an energised community might develop a ‘plural self-awareness’ that “is and is not analogous to the self-awareness each of us as individuals exhibit”.

CCK08 helped me to understand that an unequivocal commitment to a community’s flourishing is a cooperative enterprise. This commitment can be intense and needs to be shared.

I do try to contribute to community forums and believe that each of us can model a practice of engagement that peripheral participants might find appealing. I sense that stewardship is a profoundly nurturing activity that can encourage others to accept leadership as well as followership.

Each of us who has made that first step in an online community understands just how big a step it is. I am keen to promote those first steps to a ‘plural self-awareness’.

Photo Credit

The Maze (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)


Heather Hankinson has alerted me to the SWARM Conference at the University of Sydney on 30 and 31 August 2017. Link. (“Australia’s only online community management conference connects established experts with new talent for a jam packed gathering of ideas, inspiration, insights, best practices, networking and collaboration.”)

#coachlearninginsport: hooking … and triggering


I use #coachlearninginsport to pull together my thoughts about coaches’ learning journeys.

This post started with a prompt in a post written by Bryce Tully. Bryce proposes that “the current trend within high performance sport is to place disproportional weight on the collection of scientific data, while the organizational and psychological factors essential to its success are largely ignored”.

A second prompt came from a Nathan Kinch discussion about design processes that hook attention.

Both these prompts (which speak to my interest in educational technology and learning experience design) coalesced around  a short talk I am giving this evening at a meeting of the Braidwood Regional Arts Group.

In the talk (called Parallel Tracks), I hope to look briefly at the impact of the arts on my approach to the observation, recording and analysis of performance in sport. I am going to ask the audience about their memories of the impact of a work of art on them ( and connect this with a sport experience).

Parallel Tracks

As I was thinking about how to phrase this question, I thought back to my exposure to Turner’s picture of a railway engine, Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway 1844.

I saw it on a visit to the National Gallery in 1980. My response then was that I did not see the point of the picture. I was expecting a representational picture of an engine crossing a bridge.

However, it was an unforgettable image for me. My attention had been hooked. I have only made sense of the picture years later. It has grown on me. When it appeared in the film Mr. Turner, it seemed like an old friend.

The image had subliminally triggered my learning about sharing the essence of something.

… which leads me to Marcel Proust and the triggers for memories.

In his In Search of Lost Time, Marcel tastes a piece of a ‘petite madeleine‘ cake steeped in lime-blossom tea, then:

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shiver ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. … this new sensation having the effect, which love has, of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was me.

As he reflects on this experience, Marcel notes “I can hear the echo of great spaces traversed” that ultimately leads to recapturing memories of his childhood.

Heads Up

This merging of ideas set me of thinking about how coaches trigger their own and others’ learning opportunities. I wondered if ‘hook’ might have a non-pejorative meaning in this context. I wondered too how we might mobilise memories to trigger engagement and learning.

I found myself rereading Bruce Hood, Douglas Willen and Jon Driver’s (1998) to think about gaze and the importance of eye direction detection. They note:

infants as young as 3 months of age can detect the direction of gaze as indicated by the eyes alone, and that this detection influences their own direction of attention reliably, as revealed by latency and error data from their subsequent orienting to peripheral probes. (1998:132)

They suggest that research should explore “the perceptual basis of the mechanism that triggers attention shifts that follow perceived gaze”.

More recently, Saara Khalid, Jason Deska and Kurt Hugenberg (2016) have discussed how when others make eye contact with us, we are encouraged “to impute minds into others”. They conclude:

ascriptions of sophisticated humanlike minds to others are modulated by targets eye gaze –targets with direct eye gaze are ascribed more sophisticated minds than their averted gaze counterparts – and this differential ascription of mind is related to expectations of social interaction. (2016:27)
Ironically, I have discussed my own learning with my gaze at a picture and a fragment of text. In my case, I have tried to imagine the minds of Joseph Mallord William Turner and Marcel Proust.
I do hope my talk does hook attention and trigger conversation. I hope too this post contributes to the discussion of coaches’ continuing learning journeys as they (we) find ways to engage athletes as learners. I am hopeful that this might mean we have a heads up pedagogy.

Photo Credit

Rain, Steam and Speed (National Gallery, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) (Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 – 1851. Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway 1844. Oil on canvas, 91 x 121.8 cm. Turner Bequest, 1856. NG538)

Smell and Memory (Deb’s World blog post 2013)

Aap-Noot-Mies/ Primer in the classroom (Nationaal Archief, no known copyright restrictions)