The Magic of Books

I received a great link from Kent Anderson at The Scholarly Kitchen this morning.

Kent writes about a stop motion film made in the Type Books Toronto bookshop.

The Joy of Books was made by Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp.

The film was posted on YouTube on 9 January 2012. By the time I saw it there had been 1,498,241 views.

I was delighted by the creative imaginations that made the film possible. In addition to admiring the passion that led Sean and Lisa to make the film I found myself thinking about how we can transform everyday learning environments.

I liked the soundtrack composed by Tim Westin of Grayson Matthews too.

If you would like more information about this project there is:

  • an interview with Sean Ohlenkamp in a Quill & Quire post
  • a CTV report
  • Organising the Bookcase (Sean and Lisa’s first stop motion film about books) “This weekend we decided to organize the bookcase. It got a little out of hand.”

After watching both videos I went back to a post I wrote last October about Brigita Ozolins and her Reading Room show at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I thought Brigita, Sean and Lisa would have a great conversation.

Op Shop, Connectivism and Mutual Flourishing

This is another post that has been waiting to be written! Michael Clarke’s post on Sounding the Revolution gave me the impetus I needed.

I like the idea of Op Shops. Wikipedia points out that:

Charity shops are a type of social enterprise. They usually sell mainly second-hand goods donated by members of the public, and are often staffed by volunteers. Because the items for sale were obtained for free, and business costs are low, the items can be sold at very low prices. After costs are paid, all remaining income from the sales is used in accord with the organization’s stated charitable purpose. Costs include purchase and/or depreciation of fixtures (clothing racks, bookshelves, counters, etc.), operating costs (maintenance, municipal service fees, electricity, telephone, limited advertising) and the building lease or mortgage.

I take connectivism to be a kindred social enterprise. Each day, because of the generosity of others, I discover wonderful opportunities to learn and then share. I have an opportunity to participate in the move from information to coordination.

Recently I was struck by Sally Fincher‘s Op Shop credentials. I found her work through a Mark Guzdial post Tell Sally Your Stories: Monthly for a Year. The Share Project is researching teaching practice. Sally points out that:

we are investigating how academics represent, share and change their practices. One strand of our investigation (this one) is designed to collect material on the everyday lives and normal routines of academics. If you sign up, we’ll ask you to keep a diary for a day—the 15th day of each month—detailing what you do (especially with regard to teaching) and what you think and feel about it.

I was struck by a post by Kent Anderson in the Scholarly Kitchen that prompted me to think that this really is the age of social enterprise:

An interesting change has come in the modeling of society over the past few decades, namely the move from a generation gap to a fixation on youth to a reorientation on youth showing elders the way. Now, a study from the Pew Research Center indicates that older adults are adopting social media quickly, with those 50-64 years old picking it up at an 88% greater rate in just one year. Overall, 47% of people in this age group now use social media, up from 25% in April 2009.

Tools like Greplin are giving us the opportunity to range far and wide in our sharing.

As a conclusion to this post I thought I would add Clay Shirky’s TED video from 2009 about the transformed media landscape and the Internet as a site of coordination.

Play and Playfulness

I have written a good deal about play and playfulness in this blog. In June I wrote about Sliding to Catch a Train and more recently wrote about Play and Display.

This morning I received an RSS feed from The Scholarly Kitchen with a delightful example of the play spirit central to Johan Huizinga’s play elements of culture (Homo Ludens, 1938).

The Scholarly Kitchen post took me back to Roger Caillois too. Caillois suggests that play is:

  • Not obligatory
  • Separate (from the routine of life) occupying its own time and space
  • Uncertain so that the results of play cannot be pre-determined and so that the player’s initiative is involved
  • Unproductive in that it creates no wealth and ends as it begins
  • Governed by rules that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours and that must be followed by players
  • Involves make-believe that confirms in players the existence of imagined realities that may be set against ‘real life’.

In Les Jeux des Hommes (1958) he identifies four play forms (competition, chance, role playing and vertigo) and places these on a continuum that extends from structured activities with explicit rules (games), to unstructured and spontaneous activities (playfulness).

This is The Schorlarly Kitchen post that prompted these thoughts!

This one is dedicated to the parents out there. In this recently rediscovered clip of Mary Carillo’s rant about backyard badminton, every parent can take a moment to recall a day like this, which has certainly occurred at your house or at a house near you. Best line? There are many, but my vote goes for, “Then you see Christopher Berg — and it’s always Christopher Berg”.

Mary Carillo demonstrates in this video some of the cultural universals of play and playfulness. The video started out as a run of the day report from the 2004 Olympic Games and evolved into an absolutely delightful improvised story about backyard badminton. It is a story that will resonate with any parent and teacher. (Please excuse the quality of the audio!)

I thought it was a wonderful playful story about playfulness. It took me back to a remarkable experience my two children and I had in a park in Monmouth in South Wales in the mid 1990s. It was our first attempt to collect some conkers (horse chestnuts) in the park. We were happily throwing sticks at the conkers in the tree with very little success when I caught a glimpse of a policeman approaching.

Thinking we had broken some local bye-law we awaited our fate with trepidation. When the policeman got to us and uttered that time honoured line “Ullo, ullo, what’s going on here then?” We admitted that we were failed conker getters. I am not sure if it was the sad look on the children’s faces but the policeman decided to help us.

I have no idea what possessed him to throw his helmet into the tree but he did … and it failed to come down. Heroically he decided to throw his truncheon after it … and that got stuck too. At this point the children and I were desperately trying not to laugh but we were caught up in that uncontrollable fight with and enormous laugh trying to break out that sounds like a very large vehicle’s air brakes.

To his great credit the policeman did not give up and asked me to give him a bunk up into the tree to retrieve his equipment. I did so but to my great dismay he wedged his foot in the bowl of the tree. I am not sure if you have ever been in this situation but I wonder what message you would send on a police radio you are not supposed to use to request the fire brigade to extricate a policeman from a tree he should not be in retrieving equipment that should not have left his person.

Mary Carillo brought these memories back so vividly!

Photo Credit

Badminton (33)