Australian Paralympic History Project Update: September 2017

Photograph of Australian Paralympic team member Katy Parish in the long jump at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London

I have had an update from Tony Naar, the Facilitator of the Australian Paralympic History Project, about the progress of the project.

The Australian Paralympic Committee uses the hashtag #APCOnThisDay to post items on its social media channels (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) to celebrate the history of the movement by recognising prominent birthdays and anniversaries.

An example from earlier this year:

The tweets are usually linked to the Wikipedia article about the athlete or event. Tony notes that these posts are among the most popular that the APC does. This is a great way to bring the history project to life and to wider public attention.

The e-history project at the University of Queensland (with Murray Phillips and Gary Osmond) is reaching an exciting phase. The website to host the e-history has been completed and a workshop is scheduled for Brisbane on 22 September 2017 to start to populate the site. There will be a second workshop, in conjunction with a Wikipedia workshop, in Sydney in November 2017.

The e-history site will bring together all the threads of the project that have been assembled since 2010, including the Wikipedia articles, the photographs, the oral history interviews, film footage such as the Don Worley collection and the APC’s own video collection.

The e-history is scheduled for public launch early in 2018.

The Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, are approaching. Greg Blood has created a Wikipedia article about Australia’s involvement at the Games, and there will be lots of work to be done on individual athlete articles in coming months as the Australian athletes are nominated and announced.

The APC is contacted regularly by past team members to loan us scrapbooks and photos for scanning, or to donate a range of items, from clothing to ephemera to equipment. This will need to be managed, recorded and stored appropriately. At present, much of this work is undertaken by Pat Ollerenshaw.

Tony shared news of a new generation of APC history volunteers. Currently three interns from the University of Western Sydney are working with the APC on the project.Two of the interns are working on implementing a strategy to recruit archivists and librarians to assist in managing and cataloguing our extensive collections. One is working on updating the contact lists of past athletes. All three have been updating Wikipedia articles.

Tony is also working with students from the intern program at Macquarie University. A group of 12 students from that program has just started working on implementing a strategy to recruit young volunteer Wikipedia editors through volunteer communities at universities and in the wider community.

One suggestion that has emerged is the creation of a Facebook page for the APC History group. The interns feel that this may encourage easier participation from younger volunteers and also be an effective communications tool to complement this email list.

It was great to receive Tony’s update. The project is in its seventh year and has been an exemplary way to share news of the Paralympic movement. I am particularly excited that the volunteer community is now starting to engage with young people and the energy they will bring to the sharing of history.

Members of the Australian Paralympic Team, led by Team official Kevin Betts, march in the Opening Ceremony of the 1960 Rome Paralympic Games

Photo Credits

Photograph of Australian Paralympic team member Katy Parrish at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London. By Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Members of the Australian Paralympic Team, led by Team official Kevin Betts, march in the Opening Ceremony of the 1960 Rome Paralympic Games. By Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0,


This month, Mary Taguchi has an exhibition of Kasuri cotton fabrics at the Altenberg & Co in Braidwood, NSW.

In her description of the fabrics, Mary writes:

The old cloths tell the story of villagers who tie and dye threads into intricate patterns before weaving the cloths needed for life, as clothing, as bedding. The new cloths are all from my contact with a present day Japanese pedlar …

Marilyn Murphy points out:

Kasuri is a Japanese word from the verb kasureru meaning “to blur”… it’s a method of creating patterns in cloth through a dye process whereby threads are bound or resisted before the dyeing.

Mary adds:

kasuri is created by weaving together thread that has been pre-dyed with a calculated pattern. Thread is first bound with string in predetermined areas, then dyed repeatedly in vats of indigo. After the bindings are removed, white areas will be revealed; in the weaving the pattern takes shape, either by weft alone, or warp alone, or by both warp and weft in combination.

Mary’s exhibition shares the beauty of Kasuri cloth and in the tranquil environment of the Altenburg exhibition space, reveals the complexity of the creation of Kasuri in a wonderfully simple way.

I left the exhibition thinking about threads and how the concept of Kasuri might help me contemplate learning journeys.

Then serendipity struck to help amplify my thinking about threads. Solomon Kingsnorth introduced me to Mr Yamazaki:

a small, unassuming headteacher from Kanazawa had transfromed a Truro primary school by importing his special educational potion which he likes to calls the ‘Hitaisho’ method (loosely translated as ‘asymmetrical’, or ‘top-heavy’, which refers mainly to the radical approach he takes to Year One).

Simon says of Mr Yamazaki:

At the heart of Mr Yamazaki’s ‘hitaisho’ method is a beautiful minimalism- a stripping back of every single thing to its ‘bubbling core’ in an attempt to remove all waste from the system. At Mr Yamazaki’s school, less is more. It is a version of mastery that creates true masters.

In reception, this means that there are only 2 learning objectives for the entire year

knowing the alphabet off by heart (by sight and by hand)

counting up to 20 and back down again.

That’s it. No…really.

Solomon reports that “the rest of the time is spent unfolding a very intense program of oral language development”.

He adds:

To step into Mr Yamazaki’s reception class is to enter an enchanted world of fairy tale and myth which seems to encompass the entire world (and those beyond), from Ghanaian creation myths to Japanese folk tales. From 9am–3.30pm, the children are enveloped in a golden cloak of storytelling embroidered by their expertly trained teachers. The children are constantly retelling stories to each other, their parents and the class, with astonishing eloquence. By the time they leave reception, Mr Yamazaki estimates that each child has heard around 500 stories, each one rich with vocabulary and imagery.

I found the combination of Kasuri and the hitaisho teaching approach fascinating.

Whether the threads are of cotton or of stories, both have a magic about them.

My thoughts are moving towards how these threads might be celebrated in learning environments embraced in the values I mentioned in my recent post about Fogo Island.

Photo Credits

Mary Taguchi and Kasuri cloth (Mingei Studio website)

Mr Yamakazi’s School (Solomon Kingsworth)

#Abbotsthon17: creating an autoresponse resource

I have spent a week developing a MailChimp autoresponder campaign for #Abbotsthon17 in Dublin in October.

My interest in autoresponse emails was encouraged by my experience of an Open Badge campaign. I have written about my thoughts about the microlearning opportunities of autoresponse in this post written last month.

The #Abbotsthon17 campaign comprises 8 emails, 8 blog posts and a variety of hyperlinks to the OERu Sport Informatics and Analytics course.

I have piloted the course with some educational technology colleagues and have used their insights to refine the course. I am looking forward to sharing the course in the next month as an introduction to the meeting in October.

I am keen to hear of anyone else’s use of autoresponse design.

Photo Credits

Chariot of Life (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Mail Chimp Logo