“Story of chapters. Once a time chapter is one and the end is coming. Until the cock crows. To be continued ha ha!”

A diagram from a previous Collaborative Exploration (CE) on transformative education. I lack the software on this laptop to edit it right now, but I think it speaks to my sense of scaffolding of creative learning (part of the focus of the October 2013 CE).
IPgenericlabeledFocal outcome could be the standard idea of creativity being to generate something novel & useful.  The diagram would then capture the connections within and beyond a person that match an alternative view of creativity as the quality of these connections that makes it impossible to simply continue along previous lines.  (This is my preferred, but clearly non-standard view.)

The learner visible to others has a sense of directedness as individual, underwritten by the “inner,” which spans psycho- somato- & cognitive.  These outer and inner strands of the individual develop over time.  We can imagine the community being made up not of one strand as shown in the diagram but of the multiple individuals, each with their outer-inner pair of strands.

The virtues of this schema is that it captures that, as expressed in a previous post, each of us navigates the “distributed complexity” of these cross-connected strands in part by [1] trying to impart order according to our sense of ourself as an individual… with knowledge, capabilities, plans, and direction.  And [2] this self-directedness can be buffeted or even threatened by the order-imparting efforts of other people navigating their distributed complexities.  Yet relationships with others are a source not only of [3] necessary support (material, emotional, etc.), but also of [4] unplanned conjunctions or intersections that we draw from.   Such connections can [5] help us to not continue along previous lines and, at the same time, to [6] clarify our sense of directedness as individuals.

In due course I will transcribe notes I made while reading Vivian Paley’s The Girl with the Brown Crayon (GWBC).  The notes serve to provide some substance to the numbered points above.  However, what is more important to me is the self-exemplifying quality of my note-making on GWBC.  Taking the time to write down the quotes and thoughts stimulated by them, moreover doing this with a background of many years of such dialogic note-making, prepares me to notice conjunctions or intersections that I can draw from creatively [=4].  My sense of creativity in this case comes from:

  • gaining a deeper or clearer sense of how Paley tells her story.  (I see this as composing episodes, each of which is a more or less conventional story, but, as a whole, have a different way of working.  “Balls” get thrown up in the air and the reader is left waiting to see whether they are caught by someone else and how [=4] when they have moved along a further distance (as happens in all stories, but here [1, 2] are especially relevant.)
  • articulating something that I did not previously have clear—or even understood that it was an issue.   (To be fully consistent, I should let what that is emerge by the end as readers take in my notes.  For reasons of time, let me say now that the direction I began with [=1] was to imagine that supporting people to become more self-directed in making change I.e., in not simply continuing along previous lines = [5]).  Now I see that the tension between the individual and community, which Paley mentions, has to involve an oscillation that embraces the unplanned connections [=4] as we clarify our sense of directedness as individuals [6], a process that Walter describes: “Story of chapters. Once a time chapter is one and the end is coming. Until the cock crows. To be continued ha ha!”).

So, referring to the other part of the October CE–stories–, Paley tells stories within a larger story about scaffolding creative learning.  My attention to how the pieces come together scaffolds my own creative learning.  But the process is “to be continued”—at the moment I don’t have much to say about how one would write stories within stories on the Paley model.

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to “Story of chapters. Once a time chapter is one and the end is coming. Until the cock crows. To be continued ha ha!”

  1. Pingback: Notes on The Girl with the Brown Crayon, by Vivian Paley | Probe—Create Change—Reflect

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