My Connected Learning Journey, Spring 2018

As the instructor and designer of ED677 at Arcadia University, I put together a Wordpress blog (through the awesome Reclaim Domain) that aggregates all the blogs that the teachers participating in the class create and use throughout the semester. Every year I post photos that I took as part of that blog’s design. So when I started to think about my journey, and the role of peers and equity in it, I started to think more about what they represent to me and why.

Starting with 3 Tomatoes in the Sun …

… for me these represent organic growth and nature. Both have been essential elements of my journey as I have had to grow as an educator to open myself up to what learning looks like on its natural path and how we as humans grow and learn everyday. However what these tomatoes remind me of too is that this “natural” path doesn’t come without work and fostering – here I see very healthy tomatoes and to me that indicates that they were well cared for and tended at key points along the way. The work of the gardener and the context is essential, as is the growth patterns and needs of the tomato itself, and that all has to work in unison. It makes me wonder, what can we learn from growing tomatoes that helps us think about the ways we support connected learning for ourselves and others?

Moving to An Immigrant Alphabet … 

… connects me with this section of artwork created by youth and artists at Northeast High School as part of the Al-Bustan Immigrant Alphabet project. Everyday on my way to work I walk by this project, so it’s directly connected to my life in that way. But it also speaks to me of a approach to learning that is deeply connected – connected to the experiences of youth, connecting their ways of representing their experiences, and connecting people in the way that it is displayed in the public space of the municipal building in downtown Philadelphia. This for me is my vision of what connected learning could look like if we engaged all youth and Philadelphia resources and organizations in these opportunities. I am also impressed by the fact that Al-Bustan, a musical ensemble, believe it is it’s mission to support like this created for and alongside youth; I find that inspiring.

And then to multiple colored windows … 

… that remind me of the many experiences, approaches, needs, desires, that we all bring to learning. Every year when I teach ED677 I learn new things and am reminded by the course participants of the rich variety of ways we all see and understand the world. I am also energized by the social reading/annotation we’ve been doing recently in ED677 via #marginalsyllabus; and again struck by the different ways that we all literally read the world. And I love the chance that new technologies give us to do that work together and learn from each other in that way.

And finally, this image from the Octavius Catto sculpture, recently unveiled at Philadelphia City Hall … 

… reminds me of a the power we all have to be agents and activists of change at the same time I am reminded of both the past and present of inequity and of oppression. That is because this relief is from the larger sculpture at City Hall and it shows Catto sitting on a street car in 1865 in protest of the fact that African-Americans were not allowed to ride. This era is often considered the first civil rights era in this country and Catto’s act here bears resemblance to the activism of Rosa Parks and others in the following century.

From Wikipedia:

Catto fought fearlessly for the desegregation of Philadelphia’s trolley car system. The May 18, 1865 issue of the New York Times ran a story discussing the civil disobedience tactics employed by Catto as he fought for civil rights:

Philadelphia, Wednesday, May 17—2 P. M.

Last evening a colored man got into a Pine-street passenger car, and refused all entreaties to leave the car, where his presence appeared to be not desired.

The conductor of the car, fearful of being fined for ejecting him, as was done by the Judges of one of our courts in a similar case, ran the car off the track, detached the horses, and left the colored man to occupy the car all by himself. 

The colored man still firmly maintains his position in the car, having spent the whole of the night there.

The conductor looks upon the part he enacted in the affair as a splendid piece of strategy.

The matter creates quite a sensation in the neighborhood where the car is standing, and crowds of sympathizers flock around the colored man.

This for me then is a remind of the active, hard and often physically demanding complex work we must all do to make sure we do not simple replicate inequity and oppression but instead design for more equitable learning opportunities for all.

Thank you for joining me on my journey!