Getting Bogged #blimage

Bog Snorkelling

 So, I've been challenged on the double to do a #blimage post. What's a #blimage post you ask - as did I. So, turns out #blimage is the Twitter challenge child of @timbuckteeth and @amyburvall - for anyone interested in learning and thinking about how we learn. The challenge is to take an image and write a blog post around it. Sounds easy enough, right?  You should check out the details here and have a go!

Due to a missing letter L (long story), the image Helen Crump challenged me with is the one above. Yes, bog snorkelling... she said 'be creative' - thanks Helen :) You can read her post on learning as an identity job here. But more of that later. The other challenge came from Catherine Cronin in her touching and reflective #blimage post on a range of topics including a summer of life, loss, learning through connection and learning alone; a summer that saw our Twitter community full of life and celebrating the Marriage Equality referendum result with our friend @bnigrogain one week and attending Bianca's funeral two weeks later. Pam O'Brien wrote beautifully in her #blimage post about the joy Bianca brought to learning. It's been a summer when it seems many of us have experienced a variety of life's teachable moments and personal crossroads; when the ground disappeared and we found ourselves unbalanced, floating through an in-between time and struggling to get our footing.  

My Dad is a man of few words, but he has a word for this state: 'upskittled' is when we have the feet taken from under us and we don't know which way is up. He also has a word for when we get stuck: bogged. He uses it in a very practical physical sense: 'the digger got bogged, will you bring over the spade and the wooden sleepers quick?' Mostly, he can extricate himself from whatever hole he's sunk into. But sometimes he needs the help of someone else who knows how it feels to get bogged and who's able to help him out. 

Getting out of a hole in a bog is not as easy as it sounds. The more you struggle and spin your wheels, the deeper you sink. The naive will try to pull out the stuck one with a rope - but this usually results in two stuck instead of one. Some of the knowledge and the techniques he's perfected down the years - which strike me as useful for the upskittled too - include:

  • recognising that you're stuck as early as possible and STOPPING before you're gone down too far
  • accepting you're stuck and not trying to force your way through - which just makes you just sink further
  • putting something under your wheel - to give support
  • digging out around the wheels - to give some space
  • tying something to the wheel like a block of wood - to give traction - something to latch on to
  • feeling the sensation of being stuck and very gently feeling your way out of the stuckness - you can't think or force your way out
  • if it's really bad, you need someone to get in the hole and just be there with you while you figure this out
  • maybe when you're ready their presence can help you see the silver lining and identify your next steps
  • if it's even worse than that, you may need to consider bog snorkelling. I'm not clear exactly how it will help - but I have to get Helen's picture in this post somehow and this feels like the best opportunity :)
  • finally once you are out, pick your step gingerly and carefully so you don't end up bogged again, except worse this time

We all get bogged or upskittled at some stage, and so do our students - in fact, it's part of the learning process. If we accept Helen's idea that learning is an identity job, we also have to accept that it's about moving from one identity to another. This in-between time is one of liminality. I first heard Ray Land talk about the idea of liminality in 2007 when he attended NUI Galway's CELT conference. He talked about the concept as that feeling in learning when we are - in Seamus Heaney's words - 'neither here nor there'. We have moved from our initial identity but not yet arrived in our new one. Katherine Jensen has a very informative post on liminality in learning - I found it at the bottom of her #blimage post :)

How do we support our students through these uncomfortable, testing times? Do any of my Dad's learnings apply? 

Check out other wonderful #blimage posts here e.g. @carolinekuhn on learning in the wild and open

I would like to challenge invite @magsamond @7mjb @dublinwebb @snicreamoinn @leanne_lynch1 to #blimage - you can choose your own image or start with the one below - a still from a video posted by @pammoran today on how they are playing with learning spaces in their schools in Albemarle County, Virginia.

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