In a workshop at Faculty Academy yesterday, Barbara Ganley drove home a message she had delivered with no little conviction during her plenary presentation. Borrowing a poignant phrase from E.M. Forrester (“how do I know what I think until I see what I say?”), she judiciously argued that every teacher should be modelling the process of thinking, of becoming, of deep-learning through writing. How can we use the social dynamic of a community, she poignantly asked, to encourage narrative reflection that moves through “cycles of disruption and repair”?

One of the best-kept and endemically experienced secrets in academia is that we scholar-teachers tend to fear exposure. We fear being proven wrong. We fear flopping under scrutiny. And, good heavens, we most certainly fear doing so publicly! Barbara encouraged her audience “to fail, oh, to fail gloriously and (*gasp*) in front of our students!” Why? Because failing leads to a sensation of utter disorientation and of dismay. In an exercise in the workshop, she led us to reveal to ourselves that disorientation and dismay are exactly the experiential prerequisites for deep learning, and if we are not life-long learners, how can we expect our students to be?

Some friends of mine (most notably Pedablogy and Gardner Writes), have been encouraging me to jump off the dock and say something–anything–publicly and for the record. I confess, the thought of doing so has inspired no little trepidation on my part. What could I possibly have to say that anyone at all would care to read about? To paraphrase Wodehouse’s most inimitable Jeeves, it seems a given to me that I am in real danger of generating material that would be better put aside to be read at some later date along with the gas bill.

Whether it is whimsy or courage or inspiration that wags its finger at my lesser inclinations, I am here to join the “caravan” into the company of which Gardner has aptly and with “senses variously drawn out” invited me.

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