Fish out of water?

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That whirl I mentioned

It’s only a couple of days until we get to run our PSA/APSA sponsored workshop here at Surrey, so it’s a whirl of organisation around here.

Since I’m going to get everyone to try and chip in some thoughts as we go, I’m not going to dwell too much on the planned activities, but instead think about the potential dynamics that might arise.

While some of us very cosmopolitan, it’s also the case that others of us haven’t crossed the pond too often (at least to judge by someone’s queries about ATMs, sockets and mobile telephony standards).

I recall when I first met the ALPS people, back in New Mexico in 2011, I was also largely unaware of what to expect or of how things were. For me, it was a very liberating experience.That liberation came from suddenly being allowed to question much more of the pedagogic and institutional environment in which I operate. While I always knew that things (‘rules’/’regulations’) varied from place to place, but really did take stepping into a radical different way of doing things to appreciate it.

Even more rewarding was the process of taking whole chunks of different practice back into my own environment and trying to make them work (or, at least, conform to local norms).

That two-way process forced me to think much more carefully about what I was trying to do and about the ways I might do it.

Now, I’m not going to expect the same will happen at our workshop – I think we’ve all gone down this road quite far, each in our own way – but I hope for moments of dissonance, where ways of thinking collide and we all have to stop and work out what’s happening.

At first glance, the chances of this are quite high: among our participants we’ve got some non-UK people, several people new to teaching and the odd old hand (he’s not odd-odd, you understand). All of the ALPS people are treating this as a chance for us to learn, not just to teach and assuming we all get through the picket lines, we’re going to make the most of our time together.

Do keep following us this week to see how we go.

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