Without Borders

One of the joys of my week is my Tuesday car journey to and from Canberra with my daughter Beth.

Beth is a tutor on the Introduction to Sociology course at the Australian National University this semester.

We talk about many things, often prompted by the course content Beth is covering and what is happening in my Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit at the University of Canberra.

This week we talked a lot about supporting student learning and our conversation moved to exceptional students.

Beth talked eloquently about one of her friends, whom she regarded as remarkable, and I was struck by Beth’s understanding and constructs of exceptional performance.

Beth pointed me to two sources of information to help me reflect on the ideas she was sharing.

The first was Young People Without Borders:

Young People Without Borders is a movement of young people who have the courage, imagination and will to make a difference. It’s the ultimate journey of discovery for you to explore, learn, get amongst it and give back to the world.

I liked the idea that young people without borders could become Trailblazers and could Start a remarkable journey. On my journey I have learned more about the Foundation for Young Australians and Jan Owens’ work.

The second link was to Amna Karra-Hassan and the Auburn Tigers AFL team.

At 23 years of age, Amna played a lead role in the establishment of the new women’s AFL team, the Auburn Tigers. She is also an active ambassador for the rights of Muslim women, and is a positive role model and mentor for young people.

The Auburn Tigers largely consists of women from minority communities in western Sydney. Amna’s role in the team, as a mentor as well as a friend, is to guide and support these young women in the right direction and to teach them important life skills.

In an interview in The Australian, Amna pointed out that most of the players in the Tigers are of Lebanese background but there is a Fijian,  a Bosnian, a Turkish and an Afghan … and an Anglo.

Beth’s friend is the Anglo! The story of her engagement with the Tigers illustrates how a remarkable woman met other remarkable women … beyond borders.

Photo Credit

IMG_2641, Auburn

Seeing Clearly?

Introduction

I love reading our daughter Beth’s blog posts about family and community issues.

I admire her growing political voice too.

She says in her About part of her blog:

I find it is through my interactions with others that I learn best and so hope that you might take some time to respond to my thoughts and so we can help each other along this journey of discovery that is living.

Today I found two items that I thought might interest Beth and contribute to a learning journey. They resonate with my interests in play too.

Item 1: Young Vision

A University of Sydney press release reports that researchers in the Centre for Vision research have found that “six-year-olds who spent the most time watching television had narrower arteries in the back of their eyes, increasing their chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes in later life.”

The press release notes:

  • The study looked at one and a half thousand six-to-seven-year-old children in 34 primary schools in Sydney. Those who regularly participated in outdoor physical activity had wider average retinal arterioles (arteries behind the eyes) compared to children with the lowest activity levels.
  • Physical activity enhances blood flow and has a positive effect on the linings of blood vessels. Retinal microvascular diameter is a marker for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure in adults, but this is the first study to show a sedentary lifestyle in childhood is linked to a narrowing of the vessels in the retina.

Item 2: Mums

On my way to Canberra I heard the end of an interview between Margaret Throsby and Jessica Rowe. Jessica is the author of Love.Wisdom.Motherhood. The book’s themes have fundamental connections with Beth’s thoughts and actions and I was delighted to hear (if only for a very short time) Jessica’s thoughts about motherhood.

Discussion

The juxtaposition of these two items and their links with Beth’s interests sent me off on a journey today. The journey reminded me too that when Bruno Bettelheim was asked at the end of his professional career ‘What would you do differently knowing what you know now?’ he answered “work much more closely with mums”.

I see playfulness at the heart of learning opportunities. The Sydney study on vision and Jessica’s sharing of eleven stories of motherhood have reinforced my commitment to activity and understanding the roles mums play in young flourishing.

I am off to discuss these ideas with Beth!

Photo Credits

Mother and Baby

Mother and Child

Blogging, Sharing, Sociabilty

I have been blogging with WordPress since 3 June 2008.

Since that time I have written 350 posts on topics linked to learning, teaching and performing.

Many of these topics are stimulated by links shared by Stephen Downes through OLDaily and were given impetus by a remarkable group of participants in CCK08.

A few days ago (10 March) Stephen posted about blogging and followed up the next day with a link to the self-organising social mind. I was mulling over both these posts when Kent Anderson posted about Kevin Kelly.

All three posts arrived at a time when I was completing an open tender on Wikiversity, making some plans for a visit by Nancy White, and reflecting on an observation by Graham Attwell about “the existence of multiple information and knowledge flows” through the ability of anyone to publish.

Stephen’s link to Luis Suarez’s post Making Business Sense of Social Media and Social Networking – Is Blogging Dead? and Luis’ link to Scott Monty’s Blogging is Dead exemplify the power of blogging to me. Kent Anderson’s post about Kevin Kelly and his link to Kevin’s presentation at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference provides an interesting context for the vibrant bloggingscape.

In his talk, Kevin points to six verbs that characterise how we interact with information, how we make and present information:

  • Screen
  • Interact
  • Share
  • Access
  • Flow
  • Generate

George Theiner’s review of John Bolander’s book The Self-Organizing Social Mind starts:

Sociability is one of the most fascinating traits of our species. As human beings, we create and participate in complex social structures with a flexibility of group membership which is unparalleled in the animal kingdom, and we are capable of entertaining a seemingly endless variety of social relationships. What if underneath our dappled social world lies a deeper kind of simplicity, which can be explained by the physics of symmetry and its breakings, akin to the processes which are at work in the formation of a snowflake or a spiral galaxy? In his insightful new book, John Bolender argues that such a view is indeed suggested by contemporary science rather than a figment of social romanticism.

I like the idea of sociability and simplicity. Blogging is a part of this relationship and I have seen it from the outset as a purely volitional activity on the part of the author and reader.

I post to share information and explore wayfinding. From early on I saw blogging as a way of developing a cloud presence that used WordPress as a vehicle for Kevin’s six verbs. I had not anticipated that anyone would read my posts.

I was delighted recently when my daughter Beth started blogging. I read her posts avidly. I have an immense amount of paternal pride and an overwhelming admiration for her desire to share information and experience. I think she has the essence of blogging that Stephen, Kevin, Luis and Scott point to.  I see Beth’s posts as another example of the resilience and relevance of blogging.