#Blimage 2: just when you thought it was safe…

sharkThis is my second #blimage post, and a much trickier one to write. David Hopkins sent me the image you see on the left, and on seeing it, my immediate thoughts went something like this:

‘Ah yes, it symbolises the way IT Service departments in a lot of institutions can be shark-like. They can be seen as a threat that may be hidden below the surface, but likely to appear and bite you on the arse if you dare to steer what you are doing in a direction not in line with their world view.’

However, instead of banging my fist on a metaphorical table, I realised that instead, I felt like a gentle walk down Memory Lane. So after a bit of bathtub-based contemplation, I got to thinking this:

When I was 4 I was obsessed with Lego. I remember owning buckets full of the stuff but one thing I remember with proper clarity is sitting in a holiday apartment in Spain with my dad and a brand new Lego windmill set. Together we built, brick by brick, a perfect representation of the huge red and brown windmill on the front of the box. My dad would read the instructions, describe the bricks needed to complete a section, and I would dutifully find the required bricks and snap them together according to dad’s verbal instructions and the photo on the box. We’d do this for 10 minutes or so, then swap roles. Together we built the mighty windmill, forgetting that despite going to Spain for a summer’s holiday, we were stuck indoors in the pouring rain.

We learned how to build that windmill together. Proper ‘learning by doing’ and constructivist learning in its most literal sense. But in working to build it together, I was able to practise my communication and reading skills, hone my fine motor skills, work on a whole heap of mathematical skills and – vitally –  have such a good time that I still remember something I did 40 years ago with such clarity that it could have been yesterday.

Three cheers for plastic sharks!

If you want to know what the blimmin’ heck #blimage is, take a look at Steve Wheeler’s blog post here #blimage on Flipboard here and a #blimage board on Pinterest here.

#Blimage No.1: apt considering the weather we’ve been having…

Last week I discovered the ‘Blimage Challenge’ (BLog IMAGE) which came about when Amy Burvall challenged Steve Wheeler to create a learning-related blog post based on one of her own hand-drawn images. Since then, many images and blog posts have been exchanged via blogs and Twitter. A list #blimage bloggers and their posts can be found on Steve’s blog here.

Keen to get involved, I logged into Twitter and asked for an image of my very own from which I could write a post.  Both Steve and David Hopkins sent images, and now that I’ve dried myself off after two days in sodden Pembrokeshire without an internet connection, I’ve had time to think about both images.

I’m starting with Steve’s – a photo he took in Piccadilly Circus – as it had immediate resonance.  Here’s Steve’s photo:


Two things struck me almost immediately: the tonal shift from those eye-watering colours running along the top of the picture and the way everything gets a lot darker in the middle. Then the fact that while that colourful upper band was screaming ‘look at this everybody! Look at the shiny shiny!’, the sodden, black figures beneath trudged onwards, faces determined to not look up, all in their own little bubble. ‘It’s been raining for God’s sake. I want to go home.’

There are still a great many people who work in education who, when offered the chance to look at the ‘shiny shiny’ – to see what technology can do to assist, interest and engage – put their metaphorical umbrellas up and their (actual) shoulders down. Teachers, administrators, managers, lecturers, head teachers, teaching assistants…some embarrassed by their lack of knowledge, some ashamed, some oddly proud (in the same way many people take pride in their inability to do maths), and – frustratingly – some just completely apathetic.

I wish I knew how to get all of these people to look up. If asked, many of them would, undoubtedly, look for a second or two, remain unimpressed, then return to the rain soaked pavement, still intent on getting home. Now and again though, a few would gaze upwards, grin and stop for a while, suddenly interested in this colourful new world. And they are the reason I love my job.

It’s all about paying it forward – so if anyone would like to have a go at writing their own #blimage post, here’s an image that you can use. It’s a photo that I took at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales a couple of weeks ago, so please feel free to share.