“Is everyone here equally involved?”
It was a question that Laura Ritchie asked us mid-way through an exercise in which our quartet had fifteen minutes to compose and then share a song played with ukuleles and shakers. In my memory, the moment could be accompanied by the movie trailer record scratch, as it was clear that somebody had been taking up more space in that process, and that person was me.
I can easily trace how it happened… we had only fifteen minutes, and getting the chance to make up silly songs is something I tend to enjoy… So I jumped in with a G chord and lots of suggestions. I hope with some semblance of collaborative spirit… but was everyone equally involved? I’ll let Sarah-Jane Crawson offer her perspective:
Today I have one major highlight, having experienced the teaching of Laura Ritchie and her amazing students. Laura is an exceptional educator – she introduces an element of meta to all her work, and practice – but in such a light-touch way. And I learned a little bit about playing the Ukelele – and thought a great deal about group practices, and left with a lot more to think about, about my own patterns of behaviour in risk-taking group situations (for the record, I probably play it safe too much and am too quick to respond to a dominant voice. In a time-constrained situation this means I wait too long to have my own voice heard).
Thanks to Laura’s timely and gentle intervention, I hope we avoided a situation where people felt they didn’t have a chance to contribute. I’ll take away a personal reminder that it’s when I’m feeling comfortable, relaxed and having some giddy fun that I’m most at risk of overstepping. Within all the learning about the nature of creativity, this magnificent workshop by Laura and her students brought home to me that inclusion isn’t something that just happens by trying to be nice. It requires mindful, intentional work to make sure that everyone’s talents are valued, utilized and enjoyed.
The words above were written in the immediate aftermath of #OER18, as I was trying to write a conference wrap-up to describe what had been an incredibly fun, enriching, and meaningful experience. I wanted to capture some of that learning. But shortly after writing those words above, I hit some kind of wall. Not all that was provocative about #OER18 was sweet. There were some hard questions raised, and I really struggled to find the words to address them gracefully. I came back to the draft a few times, but whatever I tried didn’t feel right.
I was grateful to read on this space that Lorna Campbell (who had done so much to get my mind racing with her #OER18 keynote) shared some words that read as eloquent and wise, a reflection on the Other Voices:
Who is it that writes that history? Whose voices do we choose to amplify? Whose contributions do we remember and celebrate? Whose are forgotten and silenced? How do we acknowledge the contribution of individuals whose personal ethics and politics are often at odds with our open feminist practice? I’m talking about the saints and messiahs, the ideologues and homesteaders, the founding fathers and benevolent dictators. Men who have played an undeniable role in shaping concepts of openness in the domain of technology, but whose personal ethics may be wildly out of tune with many of the values we hold dear in the open education community; equality, diversity, inclusion, social justice.
I’m very grateful to Lorna for sharing the words. And beyond that, also grateful she offered me a direct invitation to contribute some thoughts here.
I could not be more excited for #OER19. I expect to be provoked, challenged, and inspired. I hope to push through my usual anxieties and manage to feel comfortable, relaxed, and enjoy some giddy fun. I believe I have learned from this past year of uncomfortable reflection, and I’ll do my best to participate in an event where everyone is equally involved.