On the way “home”, I am on Air Lufthansa having left on the connection from Frankfurt two-and-a-half hours ago. I am again seated at the emergency doors, though in the middle of that row of seats. We just had dinner. I have been chatting with a passenger who is head to Busan, too, though he works on ships. Things are going smoothly so far. I am already getting a bit sleepy.
This morning, I awoke at the usual time and quickly got things together in preparation to leave after a shower and breakfast. I have been too busy and too preoccupied with finding my way and getting places on time to think about the departure. Of course, Italy is a pleasant place to be, but, like all places where there is no work and no friends, it becomes weary wandering around. I am therefore glad to be heading back to work, for the moment.
I got to look around Bologna before I went to the Bologna airport to catch my flight to Frankfurt. I was curious enough and the weather was nice enough to bother. I did not get a map. Rather, I left my bags at a deposit service, then simply started walking away from the airport. At first, I thought the lack of tourists was strange but I enjoyed being among people doing their normal activities until I followed historic buildings long enough to reach the old town where the tourists go. There are some marvelous places, and perhaps more remnants of medieval times that one can see in Florence. I think there are visible remains of the Roman Empire, too, like an aquaduct and a wall. (In Florence, the city has been built over the Roman ruins, and lie underground.) I walked for more than a couple of hours, stopping a couple of times for refreshments. The music museum was tempting, but I thought I did not have enough time to risk exploring it this morning. I asked around and found a bus stop where I could catch a bus to the airport and get onto the airport shuttle service in good time.
The queue at the Lufthansa check-in counter was ridiculous. It was long and most of us, the ones without boarding passes, waiting a long time because only one airline workers was there to check us in. Anyway, I got checked in and just had enough time to make a pit stop at the restroom then grab a sandwich before it was time to get aboard. Actually, I was one of the last ones to get aboard the Florence to Frankfurt flight, probably because the boarding started early.
The big news is that I suddenly made a discovery that has lead me to the next theme of the next volume. As happened last time, when I was making the transition from Volume One to Volume Two and wondering what to talk about in the next Volume, I was inspired by presentations and discussions at an economic conference on education at the moment I started to make the transition from Volume Two to Volume Three. I attended a panel of speakers on teacher networking, which brought up the topic of collaboration. Right there and then, I decided that collaboration would be a good subtopic of Volume Three of this series of blogs.
I had no idea I was headed in that direction. To tell you the truth, I had no clue what to talk about the day before. I guess answers can come up when you have questions and are looking for answers. Also, the best answers are more likely to surface when you are digging and looking to others for clues. That brings me to the idea that surfaced in this latest epiphany: collaboration.
Why collaboration? Let me explain. It is a good bridge away from the focus on journal writing. Journal writing can be a solo effort, merely used for self-reflection and self-improvement. Used in education, however, it is a tool for building communication and relationships among students, teachers and others so as to enhance the education process, evaluation and experience. Used in a blog or otherwise published, it is shared and contributes to a discussion, an exchange of ideas and opinions and experiences among many. In these last two kinds of applications of journal writing, it is part of a collaborative process.
Two heads are always better than one, right? That is, if the heads are in good basic working order, of course. Well, learning must happen in a community, or in the process of dialogue, where language and therefore cognitive processes expand and change simultaneously with relationships and communities. That is how language and knowledge grow and evolve. Consulting others, or at least reading or listening is always recommended when you want to learn. We can say that is research. Research is always necessary for developing thought. The researcher does not just consult paper or material made available on film or via the internet; really, one is always consulting the people who produced those materials.
I wrote notes about this when the idea of collaboration as a sub-theme struck me yesterday and made them while I was in the audience listening to a speaker. There has been a delay in retrieving them to completing this entry, though I originally started writing the posting content on the little netbook.
I ought to be witty and clever here enough to befit the occasion of the end of Volume Two of "A Year of Living Positively," but I am so bleary-eyed right now, I cannot be. I returned home as scheduled, doing the last leg by taxi from the middle of the city, having gotten that far by city bus. By now, I am completely unpacked and have showered and fed myself. I am trying to keep myself awake enough to avoid going to bed too early and causing myself to get up extremely early.
I have so many things to do, but I am in no condition to think. In fact, I cannot muster enough energy and alertness to review my preparations for the final exam I must give tomorrow by 9:45 on a Monday. I wrote up a list of all the major tasks I need to take care of between now and mid-July, in just one month's time, and it is a little daunting at this point. I need to rest and recover. One step at a time is the way to move through problems.
I have unpacked my notes taken when the light went on in my head during a lecture on Friday. I should retrace my path and refer to my notes for now, while I can still keep my eyes open. I was talking about collaboration and how journal writing can be a collaboration when published or shared with others, and especially when it is actively discussed. I then could see how collaboration is a method by which learning can grow, including the solving of practical problems.
The topic came up in a couple of conference talks about teacher networking to strengthen and develop their work. The two speakers deliberately pointed out that collaboration is a superior method, and one that can be effective in institutions where workloads are more and more heavy, classrooms are more varied and complex, the corporate style management that is taking over education are becoming more demanding and requiring more accountability. When people attempt to do collective work, it is necessary.
A speaker connected collaboration with building collegiality and how it can be useful in building rapports even in the most competitive environments, because it gives voice to a collective, lets everyone feel value, provides the greatest input for information and suggestion. What is more, collaboration can do this without requiring people to meet in person in the same physical space, because of technology that can aid in facilitating collaboration. It facilitates the formation of an association, this way, yet it does not presume the necessity of establishing formal associations. For example, two writers can co-author there work with a quick phone call and maybe one or two email exchanges
Certain professions can collaborate more readily and easily. One such profession is teaching, but there may be others. Probably, there are other factors such as age and gender and nationality or ethnicity.
I am totally zapped. I have been nodding off and nearly fallen off my chair. I have to drop this for now.