Well of course it’s new…it’s a beginning.
I’m involved in a workgroup which has tasked itself to investigate Community of Inquiry (CoI)…a CoI on CoI if you will. For an eloquent and brief description of CoI, visit Britt Watwood’s blog. But as I sat in the workgroup meeting–the newest team member and a student at that–I was a little overwhelmed. With all these creatively thinking content matter experts in the room, what could I possibly contribute?
I have always believed that inactivity in the workplace is the surest path to a crises of self confidence, so I have to do SOMETHING, even if it’s just actively listening. It doesn’t take a content matter expert to summarize what everyone else says, and the summation can be useful–essential, even. So that’s what I did: a pictorial image of the meeting minutes.
I didn’t spend a lot of time on this, folks. Maybe an hour of concentrated effort. But why waste my time? Was/Is it useful? The entire time I was drawing I had to keep pushing back the doubt–was this just another form of playing?
I kept returning to something the big boss, Gardner Campbell said to me earlier this week. He had stopped by my office to be friendly (as all big bosses should do with fellows or interns or students–in all my stints in higher education I’m always surprised at how many don’t). We were talking about the personal doubt or even despair that inevitably occurs when someone is doing the good and necessary work. Part of his message was to not be afraid of loitering…occasionally you need to loiter in ideas much longer than appears necessary at first glance. He used the example of the doctors who don’t loiter when talking with their patients–when they don’t loiter, they often miss the real diagnosis or problem. I had to laugh (inwardly) at that example–that sort of loitering had the linchpin to my vocational identity as a physician–he was preaching to the choir in a way that I connected with so closely that it almost hurt. The day I was too burned out to loiter with a patient was the day I knew quitting was the morally responsible thing to do.
But somehow, loitering outside of that one particular context has always been difficult for me, probably because I have yet to adopt it as a linchpin to the vocational identity of STUDENT. There has been little moss growing on this particular stone. Hmmm, I should get rolling on that–moss-growing, that is.
And, on top of everything, how can a picture be meaningful in a professional setting at all? Something like this would get laughed out of a meeting in the medical world (my husband laughed at it before he felt bad and stopped laughing). I’m still trying to figure out if it’s worth sharing with anyone beyond my kids.
So what does this picture tell me about CoI that I can’t get from Britt’s excellent textual summation? What is my subconscious trying to tell me?
1. The cows have a satellite dish on their barn because otherwise it felt a little too isolated for an image about CoI. Is our small workgroup too isolated? Should we be including others sooner rather than later?
2. Any allusion to want to give to the beehive, well, go for it…all the ones I have come up with so far work. Busy bees, socially-based work ethic, kicking the hornet’s nest in several different ways–two examples of nest kicking: (1) attempting to change our culture (teachers and students) to be open to facilitated learning and true learning communities; (2) critiquing CoI when it is so enormously popular and there’s a lot of buy-in…
3. The rocky foundations under the tree–there’s so much to critique with CoI…particularly the assessment aspect of it. What kind of outcome is perceived learning–I don’t agree that it is the best way to measure community. But then, what is “deep and meaningful learning”? Oh, Ausebel, what have you given us?
4. Clear blue sky–so many ripe opportunities for research and publications
5. This picture is set in Greece (so maybe those should be goats, not cows). Birthplace of democracy, anyone?
We touched on all those things in the meeting–yes, I think I got the entire meeting in the picture. So until I feel like I can do more, at least I can be the reporter :).