The Merry Makers

Hot on the heals of the ABC Sunday Arts’ program (8 June) was a wonderful story about the Merry Makers (9 June). For anyone interested in teaching, learning and the flourishing of the human spirit this was a must see program.

ABC Photograph

In the program you meet Lucinda Bryant the Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Merry Makers. She is a remarkable teacher. She observes that:

“I suppose one of the biggest things is knowing about each individual in the class and how they actually work, and that’s not really knowing a lot about their disability, but more about their personality. I kind of just go by the feel of the day, and quite often when you’ve got 70 people in one room, each day is very, very different. So I sort of just take each day as it comes with the Merry Makers and yeah, just sort of go with my instinct.”

One of the stories within the program was about Sam. Lucinda’s work with him seemed to me to be the essence of all good teaching:

“When he first started, didn’t want to be in with the rest of the group, wanted to be outside. If he was in with the rest of the group, he’d be lying on the ground. But then as soon as everyone stopped dancing, then Sam would get up and want to be a bit of a star. So you knew he had it in him to want to dance. And I just let him do that. I kind of just ignored him, just to … one for him to get settled and to feel comfortable and confident, but also just so he didn’t have the attention on him.”

The Merry Makers performed at the Sydney Entertainment Centre for a one night show. This is one of the mums’ view of the evening:

“At the end of the night, the people and the love and the joy that’s in that audience, everybody just wants to hug one another and the the Merrys come off stage and the audience treat them like they’re absolute stars. Everybody’s equal because of this wonderful performance which is, words can’t describe it. It’s inexplicable. I just can’t tell you the effect they have on people. It just generates love and joy and happiness, and there’s so much laughter, and no one wants to go home.”

You can find two video clips of the program here.

Stephen Downes and Jeanette Winterson

Last week had a double bonus! Stephen Downes shared his video of his talk Light, Agile and Flexible: Collaborating the Web 2.0 Way. The slides of his talk at the Innovations in e-Learning Conference, Fairfax, VA are here. Stephen’s OLDaily post about the talk is here. He observed that it was a “somewhat chaotic presentation (I used the conference backchannel chat again) in which I talk about collaboration with respect to web 2.0.” The Google video made it possible for everyone not at the conference to share a fascinating presentation.

I start each day in Australia by reading OLDaily over a cup of coffee.

ABC photograph
The ABC’s Sunday Arts’ Program televised an interview with Jeanette Winterson and made the interview available as a vodcast (Episode 18, 8 June). I read her Oranges are Not the Only Fruit when it appeared in 1985 and saw the TV adaptation in 1990. The notes from the ABC Arts show introduce her with this statement: “The British Council says Jeanette Winterson is a “writer and controversialist”, apt descriptors for one of England’s leading authors whose forthright ways have characterised her public profile for more than 20 years.”
Like the OLDaily I am finding that the ABC Sunday’s Arts program is becoming an important part of my week. I am delighted that the ABC web site is such a rich resource.

It is great having such visual access to two remarkable characters!