Saturday, 13 December 2014

An Experimental Kind of Magic

Having reflected further on this blog and its purpose, I'm satisfied with my decision not to continue posting weekly. But I'm not satisfied leaving certain things unsaid.

My idea up until now was to use blogging as a teaching tool to complement my work with kids and adults in the urban forests of my hometown. Certain regularly-occurring blogs have been transformational in my own understanding of nature and the magic thereof, so I know the value of having deep truths articulated in ways that are accessible and timely in terms of a student's growth.

My assessment of the blogging experience so far is that it's been excellent for my own growth as a student, in that it's kept me disciplined and productive, producing some 1200 words every seven days for an audience of my peers who can correct and guide the development of my thoughts. I think it's been a good move to consider myself an apprentice Wizard of Earth rather than a master, because after seven months of attempting to teach myself and a willing experimental audience of online readers, I've gained a greater appreciation for the planning, foresight, and experience that good teaching requires. Those are skills I just haven't developed enough yet to make a weekly blog worthwhile.

As the magnetic pull of writing has drawn me back toward the keyboard, however, I've been taking thought as to what this blog might mean going forward. I'd like to re-envision A Wizard of Earth as a wizard's laboratory (perhaps a crackpot wizard's laboratory), an experimental kitchen where ideas are allowed to bubble and stew and explode in colourful puffs of smoke. If I find success in the magical brews concocted here, I can bottle them and bring them to my teaching blog on the Forest School website, which doubles as a business platform and so receives a larger willing audience.

The 'willing' part is key, as the best kind of learning happens as a collaboration, be it between student and teacher, student and peer, or student and nature (that last one is a practice I'd like to develop further). My own studies cannot be conducted in isolation, and the internet is a useful tool for sharing one's research and receiving touches of guidance from those who take an interest in guiding it. I'm only just learning to use the blogosphere, but it's dawning on me that amid the vast superhighways of cyber-data transecting the wasteland of inanity that is the internet, there are fertile and steaming oases, fermenting in hidden pockets of the intellectual landscape, where real ideas are shaped and discussed and brought back to the living world as tools for living well.

That is the point, isn't it? We're all trying to live well with the time that is given to us, and for each person that means something different. But if there is to be anything we share, i.e. a physical world and life together within it, then we have to be willing to share our inward attitudes toward that which we share, and hope to share well. Hence another blog about nature...

I'll continue to wrestle with the problem of spending time with computers vs. spending time with humans and trees, no question about it. But recent conversations with humans have led me to reconsider the value of written exchanges, and to consider giving this experiment another shot, with perhaps a more experimental kind of attitude. Because I'm really interested in the idea of magic I've been brewing here, and although I may not be entirely sure of what I'm talking about yet, I think it's worth exploring.

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