Monday, 31 December 2007

A new year, a new hope

The road of life can only reveal itself as it is travelled; each turn in the road reveals a surprise. Man's future is hidden

To some extent, this quote summarises yesterday’s blog. We are travelling a journey whose destination is to some degree unsure.

Many would have made new year’s resolutions. I don’t bother. If I am not already on a journey then making a resolution isn’t going to get me started on the journey. Journey’s involve action and not inaction. As Lao Tsu has said “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” So the question that I should be asking for today is what is the steps that I will take to move along on my journey.

Paul in II Corinthians 5:1-10 talks of looking forward to the time when he will be free of his earthly body and be taking on his heavenly body. As I read that and Barclay’s commentary on it, I thought that isn’t what inspires me to do what I do. A lot of what I have done has been to complete tasks that had some priority at the time. They weren’t things that I saw as significant or fulfilling some great destiny. In many instances, they are things that I could do at the time.

If I have any passion that drives me forward right now, it is to be able to apply that which I have discovered through my research. I have no desire to enter into a research cycle simply for the pleasure of achieving a publication record. It is a little like not finding any enthusiasm to repeat the installation and set-up of the same operating system on another machine for another customer. There comes a point where there is no learning and little being achieved. My whole life has been about moving forward and facing new challenges. It isn’t quite what Paul Conrad says when he says "I look beyond where others have been to see where I would go" but I am certainly looking beyond where I have been and beyond what I have already learnt from others to see where I might go.

In reflecting on this theme, I would like to argue that in my teaching, I am not interested in teaching just what is already known. I want to have a learning environment that is about exploring possibilities. Seneca said “Homines dum docent discunt” which translated means “Even while they teach, men learn.” I would hope that this is portrayed in my teaching.

In terms of my research, I want to be able to apply the theory and to test it. I see possibilities in the theories that I am working with and I want to explore some of those possibilities. Not just within the realms of computing. The principles of using variations to build a space of learning and of exploring variations in understanding to build reconciliation is a theme that I would like to pursue. Yet I am conscious that the more I learn, the more I realise there is to learn.

Stephen Covey 5th habit is “Seek to understand, then to be understood.” It seems to me that if we are to help people learn then we need to understand where they are at in their understanding of what is to be taught and then to open up the possibilities from that point. We see so many conflicts in our world because there is no desire to understand the perspectives of others, to learn from them, and to help them see other possibilities. How blind we are if we think that our culture or our beliefs are it and others must conform. Together, we need to seek to understand and to address issues that separate us.

No, I am not hoping for some eternal bliss serving in a new body. I am seeking challenge for now and the hope of developing even deeper understandings.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt


Covey, S. R. (1990). The seven habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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