Monday, 31 January 2011

How to build a community

I got this from Keri Smith (an artist who has been fairly influential in my thoughts about my thesis topic), who got it from a flier printed by...well someone in Vancouver.

The flier (and Keri) noted "if you take this poster, make copies & pass it on!". I like the idea of one person's vision that gets passed on. Something that starts off as a small spark, a thought, that picks up momentum and grows exponentially over time. So here you are, if you like it make copies and pass it on.

How to Build a Community
turn off your tv~leave your house~know your neighbors~greet people~look up when you're walking~sit on your front steps~plant flowers~use your library~play together~buy from local merchants~share what you have~help a lost dog~take children to the park~honor elders~support neighbourhood schoools~fix it even if you didn't break it~have pot lucks~garden together~pick up litter~read stories aloud~dance in the street~talk to the mail carrier~listen to the birds~put up a swing~help someone carry something heavy~barter for your goods~start a tradition~ask a question~hire young people for odd jobs~organize a block party~bake extra and share~ask for help when you need it~open your shades~sing together~share your skills~take back the night~turn up the music~turn down the music~listen before you react to anger~mediate a conflict~seek to understand~learn from new and uncomfortable angles~know that no one is silent though many are not heard~work to change this
text: Syracuse Cultural Workers

Sunday, 30 January 2011

put simply

The reason I prefer living in Finland to living in Hungary is simple:

In Finland people generally trust each other and institutions and occasionally their trust is shown to be ill placed.

In Hungary people generally distrust each and institutions and occasionally their distrust is shown to be correct.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

What's the hold up?

Lily's two front teeth fell out in the summer but there has been no sign of new growth yet. I was starting to wonder what the hold up was but it was made clear today. Lily hasn't applied to the council for planning permision yet never mind had it aproved.

Friday, 21 January 2011

I used to be a cyclist, now I just ride a bike.

As Spring begins to challenge Winter here in Szeged I find myself longing for a bike. Technically I do have a bike but it isn’t good for much more than the school run popping to the shops; it’s not a real bike like the one I used to have.

Once upon a time I was a cyclist. It was part of my identity. Cycling was more than just my way of getting about. It was who I was. But we gave our bikes away when we moved to Finland and we have never been able to afford to replace them.

Cycling was my main form of exercise, recreation and being outside. Oh, I miss being outside. We used to have a cupboard in our kitchen stocked with eco-fuel for the camping stove and ingredients for tasty camping dishes so that we were ready for a weekend cycle trip any weekend the sun was out. We would just load up our bikes and go, we’d be outside until we got home on Sunday evening. We haven’t figured out how to go camping without our bikes yet and it has been nearly 4 years since we gave them up. We don’t have a car; we don’t do driving (yet) which leaves public transport and foot as the transportation options but these options don’t get you to the quiet little campsites off the beaten track in the utterly stunning locations that you can reach with a bike.

Without bikes our weekends tend to become about tidying up, shopping, laundry...We do have some fun, we go to the park, for a walk or do baking or make something extra special for dinner but it doesn’t give me the same soaring lift I get from riding my bike through the countryside and sleeping under the stars.

I was just commenting to Gabor just last night that I like our way of living where we keep our debt much lower than the average young family buy simply not buying stuff (no house, no car, no furniture, no TV) but maybe bikes are something that would be worth accumulating some debt over. That little bit of debt could reclaim my identity, give me back my freedom, my weekends, my adventures.

Then again maybe it is the start of a slippery slope.

Monday, 17 January 2011

What is knowledge? ....and what is the point of exams?

This week I made the odd decision to abandon exams. I may seem like a quitter or some nonsense like that but I think I have reason. As a student teacher I have an interest in learning (doing it and in the concept) and don’t take these things lightly.

I went along to an exam the other day for a course I had been doing; The Social Uses of Language. It has been a very interesting and useful course covering topics such as English as a Lingua Franca, Language Planning and Policy and Language and Identity. There has been a lot of reading for the course, sometimes as many a 5 articles for a 90 minute class, but on the whole they have been well selected and thought provoking. The thought provoking part is the key to where I am going here. In Oulu, with our study journals and open book exams, I have become accustomed to the idea that it is not the knowledge in the books that is important when it comes to exams but the knowledge I create from the books; my thoughts, my reflections my connection, my questions, my (attempts at) answers. Bearing this in mind; when I looked at the exam questions which wanted me to reiterate the authors knowledge presented in the articles I was a little (re. hugely) unprepared. Don’t you want to hear my knowledge? Don’t you want to know my thoughts? I have so many. In the end all I wrote was a not saying I will have to sign up for the resit.

I came home utterly disheartened. I don’t take failure well. It didn’t last long though because like I said, I have lots of thoughts so it didn’t take long for me to think about this in a different way.

To pass the exam I would need to reread all 30-something articles again using a different lens; I would need to memorise the authors’ knowledge. But do I need to memorise their knowledge when I already have my own? The answer I cane to is “only if I want to get credits”. However there are other ways to get credits, and I will always have the knowledge that was constructed though participating in the course.

I have a new plan and I am very happy.

So yes, I have abandoned the exams, I am not going to spend the month of exam leave rereading articles and memorising data and (in the case of syntax) trying to understand things that I simply don’t get. Instead I am spending the month doing concentrated work on my thesis, and I am filled with joy. It’s new and exciting and thoughts are rushing around in my head and it hurts because with a/r/tography, even the way of thinking is new and my brain is trying to resist, yet I’m inspired. I have dug out my sketchbooks but still trying to get over my nerves and make he first marks on the pages.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Who defines "student centred learning"?
I had a really sore neck the other day so I got some salts and took a bath. I normaly dont like baths, I am more of a shower person but this bath was different. Bath salts, funnily enough, make the bath water salty and things float in salt water. Breasts float in salt water. This was entertaining enough for me to have a long soak.
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