Into the city⤴

from @ Ruby on Wheels

For the first time in AGES I took the bus into Edinburgh. Actually, I hardly ever take the bus, but since getting my free bus pass it seems that it would be sensible to use that mode of transport. Besides, parking in Edinburgh is a real pain.

I had forgotten the sound of “tarum-bump … tarum-bump …” as we went over the joins in the Forth Road Bridge. Since the new bridge opened several years ago, that’s always been the way we cross the river. The view from the bus windows was also just that little bit different from the car window on the new bridge. I forgot that I was wearing a mask.

When I first moved out of the city to relocate in Fife, I remember that quite a few friends point blank refused to come and visit. It was too far. But I could come in to visit them, and meet up, and do “things”. It seemed a bit churlish to point out that it was exactly the same distance, and visiting me was easier for parking. However, more often than not I decided to just travel in. It was easy in the evening when we decided to go to listen to live jazz. The roads were quiet, and it took no more than 30 minutes door to door, sometimes just 20 minutes. There was always a sense of escape as we crossed back over the bridge. Although we still had a few miles to go, the crossing of the Forth symbolised escaping from the city. Was it just imagination that the air cleared as well?

Edinburgh was looking spectacular. I walked along the Gardens underneath the Castle, and even the local drunks looked as if they were enjoying the fresher air and being outdoors. I had a moment of anxiety as I climbed the stairs out of the gardens – quite a few people were walking along that bit of pavement and it looked difficult to negotiate a “social distance” safely. So I looked straight ahead and just kept going to cross the road. The idea that I looked too serious and un-friendly briefly crossed my mind, but it seemed more important to get across to the quieter pavement safely.

I met some lovely friends for coffee and we chatted about what we’d managed to achieve with venturing into the world again, and visits to family, and little outings. It was good to share the balance we’re trying to get in our lives as retirees and in the “vulnerable” group. We parted with promises to do it again very soon, and I expect we might just manage to make this a regular meetup, if we can even manage to find a time when we’re all free.

Lines of Thought for ALT21⤴

from

Last week Wendy and I gave a presentation about the collaborative poem written for a DS106 Daily Create and some of the remixes that came from it. Here’s the recording and a link to the slides.

Finding joy in ethics and criticality: reflections on #altc21⤴

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I have to admit I at the start of the conference, I felt pretty jaded. It’s been a long year. I haven’t had a proper break – that’s my own fault – not blaming anyone but me for that. And like everyone else I’ve had, and continue to have, my fair share of challenges this year. Another online conference wasn’t exactly filling me with eager anticipation.

There’s always something of the start of the new term feel about the ALT annual conferences, which is one of its strengths. That is also historically why it’s been a challenge for some people to attend the physical conferences. One positive thing about the move to is a lot more flexible, and accessible for many. Anyway, like I said, I wasn’t really feeling any excitement for anything at the start of the week – online or in the “real” world! I knew I would be dipping in and out of the conference due to work commitments, but as is so often the way with ALT conferences, it and more importantly the ALT community, slowly drew me in.

The keynotes were, as ever, very strong this year. Sonia Livingston’s “the datafication of education: in whose interests?”, focused on her research with in schools around the use and understanding of data (particularly children’s understanding of data and how it is used). The give and take of data in schools (and throughout education) is quite unbalanced. The ‘system’ takes data, often without any really questioning from students or wider society. Schools/colleges/universities, are generally trusted entities, with a (at least here in the UK ) a legal duty of care for their students. However, as more 3rd party systems are integrated in education, and more data is being given to companies, the balance is changing. They take the data and offer it back in ways that they choose. Sonia highlighted that adults often give children a false sense of trust about managing data, without highlighting that once a company has your data, despite GDPR, there is a lot it can do with it without you realising. Just what is Google/Zoom/Microsoft etc actually doing with all the extra data they have collected over lockdown for example? The need for data literacy for us all, not just kids, is increasingly important.

Data literacy was central to Mutale Nkonde’s keynote, based on her 2019 paper “Advancing racial literacy in tech” , Mutale expertly took us through the bias of AI and algorithms, highlighting in particular the racial basis in social platforms (Tiktok was cited here) with their implementation of data proxies for popularity, that clearly have historical racial bias “baked in”. Mutale encouraged us all to question and have more conversations about data, AI, algorithms. To participate in projects such a AI for the people which aims to develop and support the ethical use of data. Mutale also reminded us that algorithms are IP and so have commercial confidentiality on their side. Companies do not need to share the algorithms they use. I for one think that should be challenged more, particularly in education. If we use a AI or any 3rd party company and it is harvesting data, then part of the contract should be full disclosure around how that data is being used, so that there can be informed discussions around what patterns, historical trends, etc algorithms are being built on.

Starting these conversations can be tricky. That’s where the (launched at the conference) ALT Framework for Ethical Learning Technology might come into play too. During its launch John Traxler asked if we need to decolonise educational technology. This sparked off a bit of a debate on the ALT mailing list, so I think the answer is a clear yes! Adapting the statements in the framework to questions would be a good starting point, imho around conversations about the ethics of technology, the ethical use of data, what that actually means in context.

The highlight of the conference for me was the final keynote from Lou Mycroft. Lou is one of the founders of #JoyFE. This really did bring back my #joy. I loved Lou’s explanation of: joy as an intentional practice, of the power of being affirmingly critical, but not cynical, of quiet resistance, of the joyful militancy of embracing “the power of giving away power”. I loved the wave Lou weaved ideas around leadership, around transformation being a start not an end point, of turning values into questions. For example what would assessment look like as a practice of hope? What would timetabling look like as a practice of care? I would encourage you, dear reader to watch all the keynotes, as well as the other sessions.

For me the ALT-C conferences have always been places and spaces of joy, for sharing of ideas, for getting re-energised, and also for getting confidence from the community to continue (or start) some bits of quiet resistance. Lou proposed leadership as being more about co-ordination, not control. On reflection, I think that is strength of ALT too, it can, and does provide co-ordination for the community. The range of special interest/member groups are a living example of that.

The conference also saw the launch of the ALT/ITN co production “The Future of Learning “. Lots of “shiny” tech stuff there and worth a watch not to see the future, but to see what is happening now. Not a lot of critique of technology/AI/ data so I wonder if there were to be another episode if a theme of the ethical use of technology would be apt? That would give a space for the new framework and the work of the ALT community in this area to be highlighted. It could help raise wider awareness of the need to question how, where, why, when and with/by whom data is collected and shared. That might provide a way to show some joyful resistance and coordinated leadership can allow for more equitable, ethical, caring and joyful future for learning.

Many thanks to the conference co-chairs, the conference committee, the ALT team, and everyone who participated in the conference.

ALTC delegate open badge image

Bob Ross Godzilla⤴

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Sometimes I see a Daily Create that makes me wish I had a lot of time to spend on it. Friday was one of those days. The prompt was to make a Bob Ross style voice over.

I only had a few minutes, so I grabbed a pic of Godzilla from Flickr and ran it through a few filters in LunaPic. My big find was a Bob Ross soundboard with lots of very short clips of his voice. I’d recently noticed that Windows 10 has an inbuilt video editor, so I thought I’d try it out. Luckily it was very easy to use – I just dragged and dropped the images in and played some of Ross’s sayings till I found some that fitted. A quick save and upload to YouTube and I was done.

I wish I’d had more time to line up the audio better, but I am quite pleased with my quick Create

Opportunity cost⤴

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A few weeks ago we viewed a house. It was stunning. Great view to water and hills. Lots of outdoor space. Double garage. Spacious. Bespoke. Great location. And just within our budget. On paper it was our dream home. So we arranged a viewing. But… (yes there’s a but!) it needed too much work. New roof. New windows. Potential. Lots of potential. But just not perfect. The discussion then ensued about the compromise we were willing to make. And to be honest, it continues. But it made me think. Is there always a compromise?

In classrooms across Scotland this last few weeks, teachers have tried to establish routines, build relationships, share learning intentions, ask effective questions, model and scaffold learning, check for understanding and give effective feedback. All whilst teaching pupils behaviour expectations and encouraging them to be be resilient, creative and ambitious! Wow. Teaching is incredibly complex. Ands that before we add in the global pandemic we find our self working within. Or adding into the mix lunch duty, extra curricular clubs or supported study.

We all want the best for our learners and yet we must consider that it is difficult to do it all. If we, as teachers, are doing one thing, then we are not doing something else. Sometimes it’s inevitable that there is a compromise. Therefore we need to be absolutely certain that the practices we employ in our classrooms are the the most effective. It’s interesting to consider the notion that doing less but better could be more impactful than doing it all but without substance.

You’ve probably heard of opportunity cost. The notion that if we choose to use our time in one particular way, there is something else which is unable to be done in its place. If teachers are busy doing wall displays, they aren’t able to spend that time giving pupils valuable feedback. If staff calendars are filled with operational meetings, they aren’t able to commit time to developing the curriculum. If staff are photocopying and laminating, they aren’t able to engage in professional dialogue. Everything has an opportunity cost. No one method is wrong, but we need to be sure we utilising the best approaches if it means others need to be compromised.

Being really clear about what’s important and holding strong to our values is something which will help shape how we use our incredibly precious time as teachers.

For me, Educational research has opened my eyes to so many best bets for learning and teaching, and confirmed why I do lots of what I do when I’m teaching young people. The research is effective. It works. And seeing the impact it has on young people is hugely motivating. When the learning and teaching going on in my classroom is of a high calibre, my job satisfaction is increased. Research is not the only perspective, but it’s a good starting point. As with everything, context is key.

Knowing the research is there and having access to it in a way which is clearly distilled and accessible for teachers, is one way in which we can support time-short teachers to access the information they need. It’s also important to sift through what is relevant and prioritise what will work in your setting. Some schools circulate a helpful summary of individual educational research papers or books. Others share interesting articles to create a space for enquiry. I particularly enjoy professional reading which brings much of the research together in one place and books by authors such as Bruce Robertson and Tom Sherrington helpfully collate important research into easy to digest, practical guides. Discussing this with colleagues through professional reading groups can be really helpful too, to clarifying thinking and engage in discussion to share good practice.

But how do we make use of this without overwhelming teachers who are already working incredibly hard? For me, it’s about making it relevant and worthwhile for teachers.

Allowing them to buy in to the impact it will have on their classroom and the young people. And starting small. ‘Great oaks from tiny acorns grow.’ In my fortnightly faculty update, I include a small snippet of educational research to inspire staff. I don’t insist it’s read, or check up but my hope is that by planting these small seeds, staff will come to it in their own time and by their own decision. In my mind, this is far more powerful and impactful, than it being forced upon them which I suspect may instead turn them off.

The element of personalisation to CLPL means that staff feel ownership of it which makes it far more powerful. Individuals can identify their own individual needs and then seek out professional learning which inspires and motivates them to improve their practice. Flexible professional learning which works around time-strapped teachers’ existing commitments is more likely to be accessed and engaged with, for example drop-in 30 minute sessions, while walking the dog, or driving to work listening to a podcast. We do not have to do it all. Identifying one small area of focus and getting it right, can have a huge impact. If we focus on just improving feedback, the knock-on effect of this for questioning, modelling and scaffolding is huge. There is so much educational research out there that it can be overwhelming. And it can lead to dilutions and lethal mutations if we are not incredibly careful as well meaning practitioners simplify, distort and try to provide a quick fix. Prioritising our needs, the school needs and then digesting small portions of credible, relevant educational research can have huge impact. And what often happens, is that it feeds the appetite for classroom improvement.

This was the main premise behind ScotEd – a FREE, online professional learning conference which aimed to bring short dip in, dip out sessions which would inspire Scottish teachers to explore educational research. We understand that no one will be an expert by the end of a short session, but if the presentations spark a curiosity to find out more and a realisation that educational research is relevant to our classrooms and can have huge impact if explored in more detail, the event will have achieved its purpose. Please tune in on Saturday 18th September 2021 to make up your own mind. Follow @ScotEd2020 for a link to the livestream.

All in Scottish education are very aware of change. However, improvement is not the same. Sustained, long term improvement takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not change for the sake of it. It’s not trying new approaches with an instinct it might work, for us then to revert back. It’s not change, because someone else is doing it and we better too. Or change because it works for the school down the road, so it must work for us too. Change in that context is exhausting and surface level. And that’s the compromise.

Like the house we viewed (and are still going round in circles about!) improvement may be incremental. It’s not rushing in to make changes, before we’ve experienced and lived in it to know what might work best. It’s knowing what’s possible and listening to the experts about how best to do it. We might not be able to afford to do the kitchen this year, but if we know it’s in the plan for next year we can work towards that. But if we do the kitchen now, it means we might have leaky windows over winter. Compromise. Opportunity cost. Systematic, long term planning is needed, and it’s the same for school improvement.

School improvement, like upgrading a house, is far more rewarding because is hard fought and comes from a place of relationships, values, research and context. When we know where we are going (and every school’s destination might be slightly different!) the route to get there becomes much clearer, and less daunting.

Have a great week everyone. I hope you will join me next week to connect at Scoted.

A bit more.⤴

from @ lenabellina

Today my daughter leaves home.

I wrote a poem about that earlier in the week which I have copied below.

But as I sit here on my yoga mat, in the calm cool of the morning, I am reflecting on why this is such a very difficult day for me.

When I left home, 34 years ago, to fly across the ocean to America, my life fell apart.

I plummeted into depression and an eating disorder which then took me many years to recover from.

I no longer felt safe or in control and the joy disappeared from my life because the world simply didn’t make sense to me.

My brain and emotions couldn’t cope, once I lost the security and routine of the life I had lived up to that point.

I now know that I have ADHD and, of course, had it back then.

I now know that this is very usual for young women who have ADHD to struggle when they leave home.

And I know that there are simple things that can massively help women with ADHD at times of change and transition to help them not fall apart:

– Knowing about ADHD and what it means but also what it means for you, alongside everything else that makes you the individual you are

– Creating a routine and structure in the new place that ensures feelings of safety and grounding

– Keeping in very regular contact with loved ones

– Being honest with new friends, as soon has trust has been established

– Not trying to fit a mould or copy what others without ADHD are doing. Doing and being you

– Sleeping enough and not drinking too much alcohol – yep, hard as a student, maybe, but actually a life-saver.

When I left for university, a year after leaving home, my mum and dad wrote me a list of rules for survival:

Written by wonderful Mum and Dad, Autumn 1988:

Rules for survival at University.

1. Read through these rules at least once a day. Think about them and abide by them. If you feel under pressure at any time, make yourself read through these rules.

2. Spend a period of at least 15 minutes each day relaxing. This means lying or sitting doing nothing but concentrating on yourself. If it helps, do relaxation exercises or listen to music. If this makes you cry don’t worry.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others. For you that activity is destructive as you only concentrate on certain aspects of other people but not the whole person. You are you with all your talents and abilities and you will never be anyone else.

4. Try to be honest with people. You will soon make friends. Find those in whom you can confide and then be as honest as you can. Tell them what you really feel rather than what you think you ought to feel. Learn to say no and yes.

5. Don’t worry if you’re not at the centre of things. Find those activities that you’re really good at and enjoy such singing and concentrate on those. Try out new activities like sport but don’t use exercise as a way of slimming or it becomes excessive. Have some fun every day.

6. Learn work patterns which enable you to survive. It is better to leave university with a third than a nervous breakdown. No one bothers about the class of degree once you’ve got it. Set an absolute maximum work time each day (not more than five hours) and stick to it rigidly. Try to work in short concentrated bursts with breaks between. Have a coffee, visit a friend. Set yourself time targets rather than ‘objective’ targets. For example work for an hour rather than finish a chapter. This is essential for you.

7. Remember that nobody at university does all the work set. It is not expected of you and it is impossible. Work out priorities.

8. If you feel under pressure, firstly try to relax. Start by breathing etc. If this doesn’t work, seek help. Talk to a friend, a tutor, or phone home. Remember that the high standards which you set are only determined by you.

9. You have done nothing in your life about which you need to feel guilty.

10. You must have rigid rules about eating which you stick to totally.

11. If you follow the rules you will have total control over your life and survive university.

With hindsight, I can see that they are just what I needed but at the time, because of all that had happened in America, the depression that I was experiencing and the fact that I had undiagnosed ADHD, I couldn’t see that or see that they were genuinely about survival.

There is more about what happened next in the book I wrote a while back, if you want to understand more. This is a free audio version on Spotify.

https://open.spotify.com/show/6fYtR94Xjo2HdrK0f2wDIu?si=TUAe0g_IQ5elmd_HrWZ0Ag&dl_branch=1

It needs an update, in light of my ADHD diagnosis, but it has helped a few people who may be struggling to understand what they are going through.

So, to summarise. Today is hard for all the reasons that it is for other parents who are saying goodbye…but for me, it has another layer of difficulty.

Which is ok, now that I understand it and se why, today, there just so MANY emotions!!

Brambles and Blackberries

Last night we picked blackberries

You and I

Growing at the path-side

Where we have walked together so many times

Sometimes in chatter

Sometimes in silence

Sometimes feeling the sharpness of feelings like brambles that have cut our skin

And other times rejoicing in the sheer beauty of it all.

I was taken back to eighteen years ago

And that harvest.

Only then

I picked and you grew

A few short weeks away from emerging

Back when I throbbed with anticipation

trepidation

and excitement

Desperate to meet you

And little knowing

How much you would transform my life and evoke in me a love, a joy and a pride

Beyond compare.

Last night

As we surveyed the harvest of plump, shiny, bitter-sweet berries

I felt the full weight of what comes next.

We stand on the verge

Of you emerging into the next phase

And me staying

My heart can hardly bear it

And I want to hold you back

Keep you in my arms

And protect you from whatever monsters and ogres may be out there.

But I also know

That you

My beautiful, brave, blackberry baby

Are ready to go

Into that world of infinite possibilities

Where the love of others will keep you safe

While mine waits there on the path

For the next time we walk together.

Blackberries and Brambles⤴

from @ lenabellina

Last night we picked blackberries
You and I

Growing at the path-side
Where we have walked together so many times
Sometimes in chatter
Sometimes in silence
Sometimes feeling the sharpness of feelings like brambles that have cut our skin
And other times rejoicing in the sheer beauty of it all.

I was taken back to eighteen years ago
And that harvest.

Only then
I picked and you grew
A few short weeks away from emerging

Back when I throbbed with anticipation
trepidation
and excitement

Desperate to meet you
And little knowing
How much you would transform my life and evoke in me a love, a joy and a pride
Beyond compare.

Last night
As we surveyed the harvest of plump, shiny, bitter-sweet berries
I felt the full weight of what comes next.

We stand on the verge
Of you emerging into the next phase

And me staying

My heart can hardly bear it
And I want to hold you back

Keep you in my arms
And protect you from whatever monsters and ogres may be out there.

But I also know
That you
My beautiful, brave, blackberry baby

Are ready to go
Into that world of infinite possibilities
Where the love of others will keep you safe
While mine waits there on the path

For the next time we walk together.

ALTC 2021 – Ethics, joy and no gobackery⤴

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This year’s annual ALT Conference was a bit of a different experience for me as it’s the first time in years that I wasn’t speaking or doing social media coverage, I was “just” a delegate among over 300 others, and honestly it was a welcome experience just to be part of that community and to listen to and learn from colleagues across the UK and beyond.  This was the first ALT Annual Conference to take place entirely online, and although I was only able to dip in and out over the course of the three days, I got a real sense of the buzz around the event.  It really did feel like a broad and diverse community coming together. 

With the launch of the ALT Framework for Ethical Learning Technology, ethics was a central theme that ran throughout the conference.  The Framework is an important and timely initiative co-created by members of the community and led by ALT Trustees Bella Abrams, Sharon Flynn and Natalie Lafferty. The aim of the Framework is to provide scaffolding to help learning technologists, institutions, and industry to make decisions around technology in an informed and ethical manner. This work is very much a starting point and over the next year, ALT will be gathering case studies and example policies from across the sector.  At Edinburgh, we’ve already submitted our open licensed Lecture Recording Policy as an example.  Speaking in a panel as part of the launch, Javiera Atenas suggested that we use the Framework as a starting point and urged us to go further than the principle of Do No Harm when it comes to gathering and using data.

Sonia Livingstone’s keynote also focused on the ethics of data use and the quantification and instrumentalisation of learning.  We operate in a system where learning is rendered invisible if it cannot be quantified, and increasingly we’re moving from the quantification of learning to the datafication of everything.   Sonia asked a lot of hard questions, including what does “good” look like when it comes to children’s data rights, and how do we ensure children’s agency and participation in the collection and use of their data?

Chris Rowell and Matthew Acevedo presented an excellent session on academic integrity and critical digital pedagogy from the forthcoming book Critical Digital Pedagogy – Broadening Horizons, Bridging Theory and Practice edited by Suzan Koseoglu, George Veletsianos, Chris Rowell. Matthew’s talk explored virtual proctoring, the Panoptic gaze, and the discourse of academic integrity. It was another thought-provoking session and I’ll look forward to reading the book once it’s published. 

Mutale Nkonde’s keynote explored the intersection of ethics and technology in her revealing dissection of the racist nature of the TikTok algorithm and the impact this can have on real lived experience.  We know that algorithms and technologies reproduce racial biases that exist in society, but we lack the literacy to be able to view and talk honestly about ourselves as victims and perpetrators of white supremacy. Mutale introduced the Framework for Racial Literacy in Technology which provides us with the means to talk about racism and algorithmic bias through cognitive, emotional and active lenses.  Mutale challenged us to ask ourselves, when we are creating algorithms, how can we optimise them for fairness and justice?  How can we make the lives of marginalised peoples better rather than promoting those who are already privileged?

As the parent of a teen who is a frequent TikTok user, Mutale’s talk left me with a lot to think about and discuss with my daughter.  At 15 she is well aware that TikTok is a massively racist platform and she knows that the way the algorithm pushes content to users can be extremely harmful.  In particular she highlighted the prevalence of content relating to self-harm and trauma dumping.  On the one hand I’m glad that she has sufficient digital literacy to recognise that the content she views is being manipulated by the platform, but at the same time it’s deeply concerning that harmful content is being pushed to users at such a young age.

Lou Mycroft’s keynote was one of the highlights of the conference for me.  I’ve been familiar with Lou’s work for a long time and have often seen the #JoyFE hashtag passing on my timeline, but this is the first time I’ve heard her talking about the philosophies and ethics that underpin this amazing collective.  In an inspiring and expansive talk, Lou explored an ethics of joy as characterised by Spinoza’s concept of potentia; by practising joy, we enact our power in the form of potentia.  Lou challenged us to use our potentia to drive change, and resist the fatal pull of “gobackery”, the gravitational pull of the old.  While Lou acknowledged that the ethics of accountability and KPIs will not be changing any time soon, she argued that we can have parallel values based on an ethics of joy, and urged us to put our core values into strategic planning, asking; What might assessment look like as a process of hope? What might induction look like as a practice of compassion? Or timetabling as a practice of equity?

One of the points Lou made in her talk, which stopped me in my tracks, was that right now Higher Education carries a burden of pain.  It’s true, we all know that, we all feel that pain every day, but to hear it stated so plainly was transformative.  However there is still a place for hope and joy.  In a sector that currently appears to be exercising all its considerable power to pull us back to old entrenched ways living, working, being, learning, we need to use our own hope and joy to keep driving change forwards.  To do that we need educator lead communities with explicit shared values and affirmative ethics.  I believe ALT is one of those communities, with its shared values of openness, independence, participation and collaboration.

As is inevitable with such a packed programme, and juggling the conference around existing work commitments, I missed so many sessions that looked really interesting, including several by colleagues here at the University of Edinburgh and one on Using OER to empower communities of undergraduate scholars by Carlos Goller.   I’ll look forward to catching up with the recordings of these sessions in the coming weeks. 

Right at the beginning of the conference, co-chairs Farzana Latif, Roger Emery, and Mat Lingard asked us when we first attended an ALT Conference or whether we were new to the event.  My first ALT Conference was in Manchester in 2000, where I presented a paper with Allison Littlejohn and Charles Duncan called Share and share alike: encouraging the reuse of academic resources through the Scottish electronic Staff Development Library.  It’s amazing to see how the ALT community has grown and developed over the last 20 years.  I look forward to seeing where the next 20 will lead us.

Enormous thanks once again to everyone who made this year’s ALT Conference such an inspiring and joy-full event, particularly the co-chairs, the keynotes, and of course Maren Deepwell and all the ALT team. 

ALT Annual Conference by Gloria Corra, winner of the #altc student competition at London College of Communication

 

 

Visible darning⤴

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Lacey's new bed

Many years ago mum made me a blanket for my bed. It’s made from woollen garments left at the end of a jumble sale, all in my favourite pinks. I put it on my bed when we first got the cats, and Lacey sees it as her own. Recently I noticed that it had been eaten by moths, so I brought it downstairs and put it on my yarn chest, intending to mend it. Of course, it is now Lacey’s new bed, as you can see. So now I am stuck with darning the matching cushion (actually, this is one of Cagney’s beds, so I’d better be quick before she misses it!

Visible darning
Darning

As I was searching for ideas for mending this and celebrating the wear and tear, rather than hiding it, I came across Sashiko, which is exactly the ethos I was looking for as it’s a way of celebrating the remix.

Now if only Lacey will let me darn her new cat bed …

“Ta da” not “to do” . . .⤴

from

Warning: reading this post might cause involuntary jazz hands . ..

To take me out of my despair and anger about what is happening in the world this week (yes Texas, the US Supreme Court , Afghanistan, the omnishambles that is the UK government I mean you). I thought I’d try and focus on something that I can control and share.

In fact I’m passing this on from my good friend and former colleague Jim Emery. Jim has recently retired, and was telling me that he no longer has “to do” lists, he now has “ta da” lists. Changing the ‘o’ to ‘a’ has some subtle and and not so subtle – that’s the jazz hand bit – differences.

Starting with the subtle. Although I do like lists, sometimes they do scare me a bit too. At times it just feels like as soon as you tick/score one thing off, you have to add another one or seven. So maybe having a list that you create once you have done something – the “ta da” moment might be quite a good idea.

It seems to me that right now everyone has so much to do, that we never really take the time to appreciate what we have done. So maybe we should all build some time into our working week for a few “ta da” moments. Jazz hands are of course optional, but for me seem involuntary every time I say “ta da” outloud 😉