Disclaimer: I am one of those people that doesn’t really answer Dave’s questions. Read no further if you are looking for useful information. I proceed to unanswer his questions.
“It’s better to go into the world half-cocked
than not to go into the world at all.”
For some oddly rhizomatic reason, I started thinking about hedgehogs on Monday evening. Mostly because as an introvert, I often feel like one, but in retrospect I see it as a kind of thread that I can weave into an answer to one of Dave’s provocative questions as a variation of the “Hedgehog’s Dilema” for Wk 3:
Question 1: How do we make embrace uncertainty in learning?
Unanswer 1: Here follows a parable by Arthur Schopenhauer from which the “Hedgehog Dilemma” originates:
The original interpretation and meaning of the “Hedgehog Dilemma” appears to be about intimacy and relationships. There is always a potential psychological pain that we can inflict on each other by forming close relationships, yet at the same time our dilemma becomes that by rejecting those relationships, we also risk inflicting the pain of loneliness on ourselves.
However, I’d like to extend the hedgehog analogy a bit to the nature of certainty and uncertainty in learning. Like the porcupines in the Hedgehog’s dilemma, human beings seem to be drawn together to seek out answers, resources and certainty around issues, but then over time accompanied by its technological and scientific advances, we often clash over the particulars and are then mutually repelled returning again to universal uncertainty. Thus we are constantly participating in an endless cycle in which we vacillate back and forth between certainty and uncertainty. Therefore, both certainty and uncertainty seem to ever elude us. Once we embrace the certain, eventually it falls away to the uncertain and vice-a-versa. Undoubtably, my logic is flawed. If you have gotten this far, be certain to let me know. However, I find some mutual support for this idea in Janet Webster’s visual unanswer to Dave’s question as well as Terry Elliot’s lyrical and mysterious Zeega.
C’est la vie. I guess we must prepare ourselves to just dance with it, walk with it, flow with it, be still with it….
Questions 2: How do we keep people encouraged about learning if there is no finite achievable goal?
Unanswer 2: So as it seems that here are no clear road maps and yet we are conditioned by many institutions, authority figures and the past to look for them. We have to start
giving out compasses instead. But we can’t give them out, so we have to encourage people to listen to their own voices and their own compasses. As Nollind Whachell points out you must be, “Listening to the harmony, the song in your heart, that is calling you and causing you to step off the well-worn path defined by others and to set off exploring your own path with your own internal compass to guide you.”
But how do we teach that? PBL, Inquiry Based Learning, Deep Play, building places and spaces of permission…..?
Question 3: How do we teach when there are no answers, but only more questions?
Unanswer 3: We must do less teaching and more guiding. Yesterday in quite a serendipitous way @reprograma tweeted me. I clicked on the link and Voila, this blog and story about Eschu/Exu, a Yoruba trickster guide. Here are some takeaways that I think apply to education:
- “The intrinsic nature of Eshu is movement”
- “He is the guardian and lord of pathways, passages, doors, gates, roads and crossroads, and bearer of messages between worlds.”
- He is usually represented in statues with an erect penis and carrying a trident invoking readiness and vitality.
- He is always the first to be address, because without him nothing can happen, not even thought.
If much of the nature of what we should teach, is always in flux, then it is important for students to find and hold fast to their compasses during this perpetual tempest. Much like their inner “Eschu,” this guide or inner compass will carry them down pathways and ferry them between worlds and must be honoured by themselves and others as movement, decisions and thoughts take place.
Do we “enmasculate” our own inner “Eschu” and that of others in learning and education by expecting certain outcomes/answers? If so, could our inner “Eschu” and that of others be reinvoked and revitalized by a more open, playful, learner centered and inquiry based approach?
Je ne sais pas…. Dis moi…