Skip to main content

Cheating, Survival and New Beginnings

This is my response to the task for Week One of the Rhizomatic Learning Course on P2PU focusing on the topic of 'cheating on learning'...

There is a call from a certain group at the moment in Australian education about better recognising Western traditions in Australia's history and society. A certain bias that is being brought to bare by the new Liberal Government. See for example Tony Taylor's article in The Age. One of the things that this got me thinking about is the forgotten history, the voices denied air, subordinated, all in the attempt to create a stable tradition. In Kevin Donnelly's case, this Anglo tradition is based on place of Christianity in our culture. Yet when you dig deep it could be argued that it was not 'Christianity' that laid the foundations of much of this great nations, rather it was those who had to resort to doing whatever it was they needed to do to survive, whether it be stealing a loaf of bread or pinching a pocket watch. The consequence of which was to be sent to a place the other side of the world.

Having just finished reading Kate Grenville's The Secret River, a novel which provides a frank portrayal of life in the new colony and out in the frontier country, I can't help but be reminded about cheating as an essential weapon for survival. When all is at stake, stealing is a way of carving out a new beginning. Whether it be syphoning wood from rich merchants to sell to provide for others or claiming land to plant crops and clear land, stealing is often the basis for getting by. What is fascinating is that over time such acts as the appropriation of land become common place. What was once 'stealing' is eventually seen as 'normal', whether that be because the power structures evolve or simply because those who suffered the ill-deed can only be stolen from once.

What is interesting is that on top of these often forgotten histories are a set of traditions created seemingly in denial of the past. I am currently reading James Boyce's book 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia. The book explores all the different influences associated with the development of Melbourne, from the founding of the project to the treaty with the local native people. One of the things that struck me was that many of the founding fathers actually sent in ex-convicts to clear the land, to establish some sort of settlement, before actually going in themselves. In this situation, those who initially squatted and settled had little respect for the rules of the colony. Often it was the rules dictated by the empire that brought them to the place that they were, a long way from 'home'. Such settlers cared more about doing what needed to be done to survive, rather than what was right and appropriate. Eventually the investors of the Port Phillip Association came in and took control, moving from a focus on settlement and survival to one of gain and investment. 

The irony about all of this is that stealing comes first, while traditions follow afterwards. Like an artist who roughly sketches the inital drawing with pencil, only to go over it at a later date with something more defined and set. However, even if these first lines are erased, a trace often remains. An indent in the surface. A reminder of the first beginning.

To come back to education, this all leaves me thinking about those learners who are using stealing in the classroom today - collaborating, sharing, hacking - what foundation are they laying? What are the new traditions that will emerge from these seemingly humble beginnings? What legacy are they creating?

Popular posts from this blog

The Tree - A Metaphor for Learning

I remember in Year Four Ms. Bates teaching us about how trees grew. She explained that they reach to the sun and it is for that reason that they are not always straight. I am sure there is more to it than this, but Ms. Bates story really stuck with me, maybe because of its simplicity, but I think because it completely changed the way that I looked at the world around me. Thinking about it today makes me think that learning might be the same.
I remember when my wife and I moved into our house we planted a series of lilly pillies down the side of property. The thought was that they would provide some screening and a bit more privacy. Clearly we weren't going to let them grow to their potential height of 100 metres as the tag suggested that they could in their natural surroundings, rather we would mould and shape them. As a plant, they are not only hardy, but they grow relatively straight and never lose their foliage.  .  Since planting them, it has been interesting watching them grow. …

Goodbye Blogger ... Hello Domain

For the last few weeks I've been living in two spaces, this space and my new home at www.readwriterespond.com. I've been doing a bit of renovating, touching up a few things, but the time has come to say goodbye. Blogger was a great space in which to start. I loved the simplicity. However, asking to borrow the keys each time kind of had its limits. Instead I've gone and reclaimed my own domain. So if you want to continue the conversation, you can catch me over there. If your interested in setting up your own space, speak with +Jim Groom and the team at www.reclaimhosting.com or check out the original Blog Talk episode ...

It's Been That Way and It Always Will Be

We got talking the other day at school about our NAPLAN reading results. Again, the reading results were below the state average. It was therefore raised that maybe this needed to be a focus and that maybe we should investigate bringing in a coach from outside of the school. So even though we have several great coaches already working within in the area of literacy and we had a focus on reading a couple of years ago, it was believed that the answer was to get a new perspective on the problem. As long as you are seen doing something then that's alright.
Having been a part of the push across the region a few years ago in regards to literacy I posed the question as to whether anyone had carried out any sort of audit of the current practises to identify any areas of improvement. For I was told that to bring about deep and meaningful change takes between three to five years. The comment that I got in response really startled me. I was told that it wasn't anything that we were doing …