(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me


What Makes this MOOCaholic Complete MOOCs

I’m going to keep this post as short and punchy as possible, to get it out quickly. It is part of a new emerging research project for #rhizo14 that arose out of several different threads, including reaction to Martin Weller’s recent post in stats for MOOC completion rates.

Thanks to Sarah and Sandra (can’t find her post, though) for starting this series of blogposts

My view is that reasons for completion vary so much with context that the stats hide too much

Four categories of reasons that influence my personal completion (or not) of a MOOC are:
1. Personal circumstances
2. Technical/logistical issues
3. The format of the MOOC
4. The quality of the MOOC itself

Personal circumstances
Once it was just that the MOOC would coincide with the time i was finalizing my PhD, or during a time I travelled, or when my kid got sick. Nothing to do with th MOOC itself. Of course, the longer a MOOC is, the more likely it will interfere with personal circumstances and make it unfinishable for me. BUT, if it is a really good one, and really flexible (see below) I might stick with it in spite of all that. This was the case for #rhizo14 and the MOOC actually became my escape from the personal issues, rather than some burden on top of them.

Technical/logistical issues
I mostly MOOC from my iPad while on the go. Coursera works fine for that. Twitter and facebook and google plus are great for that (but I still don’t “get” google plus to be honest). Other platforms like EdX and CourseSites do not work well on iPad, and so if there is loads to do on them with dates, etc., I won’t have enough free PC time to do them (of course I sit on a PC most of the time at work but I am actually working, not MOOCing). Also stuff that requires flash won’t work on iPad (don,t have the needed browser and don’t think i will buy it for MOOCing!) so same issue.

Everyone who knows me well online knows I am also very allergic to synchronous audiovisual stuff and to videos in general. Too many family commitments and infrastructure issues to deal with. Most MOOCs don’t, or have transcripts, or record hangouts, etc. Twitter chats like for #nwoer were great, I could do some of those occasionally.

The format of the MOOC
I have discovered that I dislike too much rigidity in a MOOC. But most MOOCs with peer review assignments have rigid deadlines for that reason. It worked for me with #futureed coz the MOOC Topic was v relevant to me so i wanted to do the assignments and did not find them taxing. But did not work for a stats MOOC – too much work

I also prefer MOOCs with high potential for social media interaction and with enough people on the social media to benefit from that interaction. Definitely the case for #edcmooc, #rhizo14 and to a lesser extent (but v high quality interactions) on #futureed

The quality of the MOOC itself
The question of quality is complicated.Very low quality MOOCs can be easy to “complete’. A cMOOCish thing like rhizo14 has no particular definition of success and I like that – it fits with the ethos of the course as we each define what success means to us. All MOOCs should be like that. For me, #flsustain was very good and useful for me, but I did not complete it because that was never my objective. I just wanted to get some resources and meet some people, i blogged a bit, tweeted a bit, downloaded some stuff, got some great ideas, and left 🙂

I also realized i lately do better at MOOCs most directly related to my professional interests – so education mainly. But also ones that meet those interests in ways I like 😉 like social media, like being a bit flexible (#edcmooc had just one assignment and that is flexible enough for me)

Some MOOCs suck me in completely like #rhizo14, others do it quite well but do not take over my life like #edcmooc. Others, I engaged with non-traditionally like #FutureEd (barely watched videos, read some articles, didn’t post much on the forum but engaged a lot on twitter and blogs, plus the organized #moocmooc twitter chats)

more important than anything, for me, is the connections with wonderful people like the rhizi14 gang, and someone like Shyam with whom I just wrote this article: Bonds of Difference: Illusions of Inclusion
Anyway that’s it from me for now 🙂

Looking forward to whatever comes out of this 🙂



Serendipity, students, and revamping higher education

I have had a serendipitous few days that made me realize something that for some reason had not occurred to me: if I care to revamp education in Egypt, I need not limit myself to working with school teachers and university faculty: I could actually work with students directly!!! I always thought working through teachers was a good way to go, and it is, because it increases my reach, but that should not exclude the option of working with students as well! And I have been doing too little of that. It is time to change. It is time to get closer to the student perspective and work with creative young minds – how could I have missed doing that? I now realize I was missing it (emotionally speaking) so much!

Our university is working on strategy for the next five years or so, and being on taskforces that work on this, and attending sessions of what other taskforces are doing,.. And then doing all that in the midst of taking Cathy Davidson’s MOOC on the history and future of higher education… Then today meeting with a student who is inspired to radicalize education for the better of learning and the community – I am inspired to do more. To think beyond whatever imaginary boxes and structures I have been putting for myself and think beyond (lots of this inspired by rhizo14 of course, which will continue to inspire me for years, i think. Rhizo14 folks will see the influence of it here for sure). I am also at the same time planning an Open Access week at my institution, and revising a couple of articles on issues related to all this so lots of ideas coming together in my muddled mind.

So below is my first draft for this week’s futureed assignment, which asked us to imagine a new university and what kind of values, etc., we would like it to have. (I am deliberately ignoring the Coursera honor code and posting the assignment up on my blog to gather feedback – the usefulness of that goes way BEYOND the arbitrary honor code of Coursera anyway):

MISSION STATEMENT: to support every learner to become more than they ever imagined they could be, working interdependently with peers, faculty and the local and global community to make all university learning meaningful.

1. Capacity to embrace uncertainty and find creative ways to solve problems
2. Capacity to work interdependently, to become interdependent responsible citizens of one’s own country and the world
3. The value of striving to make your actions and work contribute to the public good with a social justice orientation

1. Student-created courses (inspired by the Duke iPod project) where students come up with interdisciplinary ideas for courses they would like to see, and find the faculty member(s) who can help design and facilitate these courses.

2. Authentic/sustainable assessments: all or most assessments need to have value beyond the classroom. No research papers for the teachers’ eyes only, to be unused. Every project or paper needs to connect with some real-life external community and the output of it to be shared with or even used by the community. The output itself may involve action by the students working with a community. Assessment involves the community, not just teachers/students.

3. All learning can be counted for credit (or badges, as in this week’s topic). Learning need not all take place in a classroom formal setting. Any learning that occurs outside e.g. Community service, internships, informal travel experiences can count. To try to make this into valuable learning, students can create ePortfolios reflecting on their learning in each of these experiences.

4. Group mentoring: students work throughout the college years with a slightly older peer and a a faculty member, to brainstorm ways of enhancing their learning in college.

I am looking forward to becoming inspired by other people’s ideas about this assignment. I don’t have time to go to the futureed forums this week but at least I will check out what is on twitter and what I end up peer reviewing. But am more interested in what students think, and how they would envision things. There is, however a book I recently reviewed that has good examples of universities doing some of what I am proposing here:Cultivating Inquiry-Driven Learners: A College Education for the Twenty-First Century

I am inspired to create a selected topics course about re-imagining higher education, to invite radical teachers and students to share their visions and to imagine what might actually be possible. So much potential here!

I have just started sharing some of these ideas in the document created by #moocmooc which is an editable rethinking highered document: https://t.co/GpMdwXEoTB

Update: there was also a #moocmooc chat Feb 26, storify here.


Social media friends are my new books: re-flipping the flip

Today, my thoughts have been inspired by a combination of things that happened on social media. This is a terribly non-linear post (interestingly, a discussion on linearity of English-language writing vs others happened today at work; lots of comments will be in italics in this post because they will interrupt the linear flow, but my thinking just ain’t linear right now and am reserving the linearity for my more formal stuff). I find this very interesting because I had a pretty stimulating two days at work, face-to-face, but what I want to blog about, what excites me enough to stimulate the writing of the blog piece, is stuff that happened online. As Lenandlar commented on a previous blog, our new online friends are the new books we now read passionately every day. (I remembered a day early on in rhizo14 when i said i was enjoying the escape to rhizo14 on the weekend (a bad one for Egypt it was) better than reading a novel, and that was saying a lot coz I love reading novels). And I don’t just mean reading their blogs, but even shorter interactions like on twitter and comments on my blog, etc.

So… To keep this post relatively short (or not, I haven’t finished it yet): I was never happy with the whole “flipped classroom” thing because
A. I almost never lecture myself anyway, so flipping that is meaningless


B. i think people who do lecture intensively would not necessarily be creative enough to know what to do when they flip. Am sure some people will have things they want to try out and will find time when flipping happens. It can be liberating, I am sure, but it is not in itself a pedagogically sound idea unless you think about it pedagogically (and that is the topic of this post, which I will get to in a minute)


C. Good lecturing was never one-way. There are great lecturers who insert minimal questions to students in the middle of their lecture, but use those to help them pace themselves, modify their plan. Besides that, even in a lecture without questions, if a class is small enough, involves making eye contact, seeing whether students understand or not. It is interruptible. A video-taped one is not. I have seen some great MOOC videos, however, by experienced teachers, who did a good job of asking themselves questions a student would typically ask, and proceeding to answer them (reminds me of some really good teachers who used to do the Egyptian barameg ta3leemeyya, i.e. educational programming on TV for school kids). It is doable but not everyone can do it.

(Btw, I a, writing this post in such a non-linear manner it is ridiculous, reminding me of my feeling about my PhD – apparently Barry Dyck from rhizo14 also had trouble making his thesis into a linear one; just discovered that in his autoethnography today; commented on the google doc to tell him so, and realized that those comments I am making on the doc are de-linearizing the text, de-autoing the ethnographies and… Messing it all up really nicely, thank you rhizo14)

ANYWAY: the ideas of today were inspired by Kris Shaffer, who posted a Stanford study (which I came across via Sean Michael Morris’ google plus) and when I tweeted it, Kris, who teaches music, pointed me to another post of his on his approach to pedagogical re-flipping in which he cites a guy called Ramzey Musallam who teaches chemistry and writes about the same topic.

In a matter of 5 or so minutes, I had accumulated a wealth of information on

1. A Stanford study that showed that it is better to start with inquiry-based learning, not lecture/video of theory/concepts – this is the chronological opposite of flipping. It is also very Deweyan, isn’t it? Discovery-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and all that; as Musallam states, it is the way of scientific discovery

2. I had learned how a music teacher tries this in his (university level) class

3. I had learned how a chemistry teacher does it in his (high school level) class

(And those three articles can make up a module in a class about re-flipping the flip, or inquiry-based learning, giving the study that supports the theory, and the experience of two teachers from different disciplines and contexts; showing the value of educational case studies told by teachers. I could go on but I think you get the idea).

I skimmed the articles and will come back to them, but also interesting was the discussion I had with Kris about why I never flip coz I never lecture, and he said he often gives his students text not video. Which made me realize how I was already doing that. I was basically pointing my students to blog posts or articles I had written in lieu of a lecture video. It made me realize two things. Well three:
1. Much of my writing is pedagogical, not always consciously in that way, but I guess it is just who I am, somehow?

2. It is more sustainable and useful to the world that I write it publicly, rather than in a closed LMS/VLE or email – it benefits more people for a longer time

3. I only ever recognized the pedagogical value of some of my blog posts because Bonnie Stewart kept tweeting some of it to her students and I thought, hmm, maybe I can tweet those to her students as well..

And another thing I learned from Bonnie, though I “flipped” it, is about connecting our network of online friends to our students – and the beautiful people of rhizo14 have been interacting with my students’ blogs (well one lucky student in particular because she said something relevant to a discussion, but now I will try to find ways to engage all the others as well) – but what a way to show people the power of social media! Full list of my students’ blogs here

(orphan side note: I was telling my student-teacher the other day, who teaches kindergarten that it was ridiculous to even think about it with reference to KG. Who the heck lectures to 4-year-olds anyway? (But apparently there is stuff online about flipping KG classrooms, too!)

I will stop here before I give someone a headache!

Oops, back about an hour later to add this great post critiquing the generic flip much better than I ever could!


The Main Responsibility of Teachers? Make yourself dispensable!

When I read this week’s prompt for #rhizo14, my first thought was “but isn’t that the point of teaching?” – I always thought it was our responsibility as teachers to eventually make ourselves not needed, obsolete – for our learners. I was just telling my students last week (hey, just days before Dave’s prompt went live) something I have always told my students: “there will always be new things to learn, but there won’t always be Maha” – and especially in a field like educational technology, there is almost always something new to learn, almost every day. My role, as I have always seen it, is to help my students figure out how to learn these new things without needing me to show them.

More importantly, while my students think it is about learning how to find new things, and figuring out the technicalities of how to use them, I think what my role as a teacher really is, is to help them develop the judgment to choose what works for their context at a particular moment in time. Barnett & Coate (2005) make this really important point about the emphasis on skills and performativity: that using a technical approach to skills education forgets the importance of helping learners develop this judgment about how to use a skill and when to use it, how to adapt it to context.

Now I think this whole idea of the “planned obsolescence” of the teacher works with all the ideas we’ve been talking about throughout #rhizo14. (The next part sounds more linear than I intended) It connects very much with independence (if you’re going to disappear eventually as teacher, you should probably work on helping learners become independent); if they’re going to be independent, they’ll need to embrace uncertainty, because that’s the way the world is; if they’re going to be independent embracers of uncertainty, they’ll need the support of community. And Apostolos mentioned on his blog an idea that had come to me: that what we really want to achieve as teachers is to make our learners eventually less dependent upon us, so that they become our peers. In that way, we are teaching so that our learners become part of our learning community in future. This is easier to imagine when your students are adults, but I am also now a “peer” of people who were once my professors.

@Jessifer in y/day’s #moocmooc chat said:

@Jessifer: Education privileges knowing rather than championing not knowing. We need to wear our not knowing more openly on our sleeves. #moocmooc

Once we embrace and value not knowing, once we help our students embrace it, we become peers on a journey to navigate the uncertainty that is the world (even while we are still in the formal course together, but recognizing that learning does not begin or end in any course). A world that is complex but that we often try to make legible (and I owe Terry Elliott a separate blog post on that! Coming soon) and lose the reality of its complexity while doing so.

Every model, every metaphor is limited. It is a representation of reality, it is not reality itself.

I look forward to research (hopefully a collaborative autoethnography) with some participants of #rhizo14 , on #rhizo14, as a way to continue our learning journey here. I hope this research somehow, in some way, manages to represent the richness and complexity of this experience. It will be a representation of our individual realities and how they intersected from our perspectives. Sure, we’d like the course leader to participate, and it would be great if he did. But it will be great either way.

Now one last point: how is it that we supposedly want our students to become independent, for our teacherliness to become less important for them, and yet we continue to remain there? As Jaap said in a comment on Apostolos’ blog – it is not just about the teacher giving students permission to stop depending on him/her, but also the students giving the teacher permission to do before the formal course “ends”.

I love Dave Cormier, I don’t remember seeing him much around during week 4 of rhizo14 (maybe I was too busy myself?) but I know that I did not feel a sense of loss for his absence, and that means something went really “right” with #rhizo14! That I did not feel the need to seek him out. I don’t think I even tweeted to him or tagged him on a facebook post last week. I just noticed all this now as I finished writing this blog post…


The Five Languages of Social Media Engagement: secrets to online communities

This is just a light brief post mimicking the title from the book “The Five Love Languages: secrets to love that lasts” to capture some (not too deep) observations of different ways people can engage on social media:

1. The “like” or “favorite” – often meant as encouragement, or to just acknowledge something has been read. Can also be used dismissively (e.g. Pressing like without having read the actual post)

2. The retweet, or the facebook share: often shows you really liked something the other person posted and have chosen to spread the word to others. One of the highest forms of flattery.

3. The reply or comment: this shows you really are engaging with the ideas another person has written on their blog, twitter or facebook.

4. The linking within your own stuff: this is acknowledgment – this is like when you link to another person’s blog within your own, a way of acknowledging the value of their ideas and helping others benefit from those ideas as well, and make connections between your ideas and theirs

5. The Private Message: this shows you are interested in the individual and are willing to have side conversations with them beyond the public social media sites

Five is such an arbitrary (but neat) number. Have I missed any other important means of social media engagement in the narrow focus of doing just five? Please let me know 🙂

note: the below as added 2 minutes after publishing:

6. The “mention/tag”: which is when you post something and tag someone on it. This means you know what might interest this person and have kept their interests in mind when writing the posting on fb or twitter. It is mostly helpful in drawing people’s attention to things beneficial for them.. But can, of course, be annoying if used incorrectly or excessively!


Reflections on the possibilities and potentials of the Arab MOOC Edraak

We just had a couple of energizing and inspiring days in my university, as the makers of the first non-profit Arab MOOC, Edraak were visiting us.

I had first met the people behind this initiative (online) when they read an article I had written about MOOCs, where I said that while MOOCs were a great development in openness and access, they were not really benefitting the whole world because
a. They privilege English language speakers,
b. They increase the (colonial) Westernization of knowledge, and
c. They privilege people who can get online most easily, if at all (this covers both infrastructure and tech skill).

Well, with the upcoming launch of Edraak at least we are on the way to solving the first two of these issues for the Arab world. First, by offering MOOCs in Arabic, and second, by providing knowledge from the Arab world, to both the Arab world and some MOOCs in English by Arabs about the Arab world, to give more voice to Arab scholarship worldwide. It has been an energizing two days.

I posted about my excitement on the rhizo14 facebook group, and got some really interesting responses (some very nuanced and critical) to which this blog post is my reflective response.

But before I do that, Vanessa Vaile (also in rhizo14 and futureed) pointed me to this interesting and reflective critique of Cathy Davidson’s use of an aboriginal in one of her videos on FutureEd (the author, Kate, is someone in both rhizo14 and futureed but whom I had not read before).

The important thing for me, here, is to point out that including anecdotes about other cultures (or in Cathy Davidson’s case, images) when you know little of these cultures, is not truly including their knowledge within your own, as an equally valid and valuable knowkledge. It is a good effort, and i applaud it, I do, but it is marginal, incidental, and does not truly make your content more culturally relevant. Culturally relevant pedagogy brings in the alternate (i.e. non-dominant) culture (of the learners) using the voices of the people of that culture (whether learners or external others), in ways that would empower learners to both be proud of their own culture and its contribution to knowledge, and critique it, to continue to learn about the dominant culture in order to survive in this world, but also to critique it in order to challenge the status quo (these ideas from Shor and Freire’s Pedagogy for Liberation). While I find much of the content in FutureEd to be US-centric, some of the activities (e.g. An international timeline of higher ed) do practice better inclusion.

If one wants the content of their course or MOOC to be truly representative of a multiplicity of cultures, I believe this would entail either the inclusion of individuals from those cultures in the course design, or at least including individuals very closely familiar with those cultures. An even better way, if you don’t have access to all that diversity, is to draw participants in, ask them to create their own content for your course, using their own context. This sounds easier than it is, if your own content as instructor is more privileged, better seen by students. But that is why a course like rhizo14 does this well: Dave (the course instructor) posts very little, and his posts are sparks to get the rest of us going. Content is not centered around him, but the content is produced by the participants and hence represents their diversity. There are other ways in which Rhizo14 is not as representative or open to all: it would be difficult to participate fully if you did not have the tech skill and comfort to use social media and interact with others online with that intensity. You may get something useful for your learning, but not a full experience of the course. All communication in rhizo14 is also in English (with the occasional French thrown in) – and that of course excludes many potential participants.

Now… Back to the Arab MOOC. There are three different kinds* of courses that will be offered. I start with the one that excites me the most: courses by Arab for Arabs in Arabic. This gives voice and space to the Arab world in the MOOCverse. Yes, Arab higher ed is sometimes supposedly free (but see this article on why it is actually costly). There is something to be said for the potential of Arabs of all kinds (including some women who cannot leave home to further their learning) to have access to free educational opportunities like this one.

Another thing Edraak are planning to do is to offer some already-existing EdX MOOCs in Arabic. This is my least favorite idea, but I can understand how some Arabs may find it beneficial. It sounds impressive to be able to take a Harvard or MIT MOOC. I never thought it was particularly impressive, since the MOOC doesn’t in any way (that I can see) approximate a real Harvard or MIT education, and offering these MOOCs (in whatever language) branded that way sort of deceives people into thinking they might be experiencing something close to the real thing. I am not saying MOOC providers are dishonest. Just that the hype around MOOCs can be deceptive.

The third option Edraak plans to offer is English language MOOCs taught by Arab instructors. This addresses the issue with Western/Anglo MOOCs in that it represents the Arab voice by Arabs.

Now I need to say that my enthusiasm is tempered by several important cautions:
1. I hope the Arab MOOC does not recreate the cycle of privilege of Western top-tier universities, by offering courses only by Arab professors from the top-tier Arab (and often also Westernized) universities. This is likely to be the start, but hopefully not all there is to it. Again, doing a MOOC with a prestigious university of any kind is not akin to studying at that university for credit

2. Arabic as a language is very complex in that the written form (Modern Standard Arabic) is completely different from the spoken (colloquial) form, which in turn is very different for each country and even sometimes different areas within a country. These colloquial dialects are often incomprehensible to Arabs unexposed to them. This means a possible hegemony of the Egyptian and/or Lebanese dialects that are common in popular media and familiar to Arabs worldwide. On the other hand, using Modern Standard Arabic throughout is complicated because first, few people (at least in Egypt) are comfortable speaking it accurately – so this might pose a problem for lecturers. Second, because it feels “distant” to learners and more difficult for the less educated. What about readings? These are all questions on the table and being reflected upon.

3. What about social media and more connectivist approaches to MOOCs? I am hoping some will take this approach, or a mixed approach such as the one used in edcmooc (and one where content is not lecture-based but a combination of relevant readings and videos already online as in edcmooc). Arab youth are already quite engaged with social media, as the Egyptian and Tunisian revolution have shown. The MOOC instructors might not be, though, but I think this should not stop the participants from harnessing social media for learning. I think encouraging their use, even if the teacher doesn’t get too closely involved (but maybe the TAs can be?) can do wonders for creating community.

4. The whole open online education thing is less “open” than we like to believe and an Arab (or any global south) option does not solve these two problems: first, the need for infrastructure, that maybe absent in some areas, but for those who have weak infrastructure, principles of universal design may help ensure alternatives are considered (e.g. Transcripts for videos that may take too long to play/download; synchronous sessions being not required and watchable later). Second, the need for the learner to both have the technical skills to be able to access the learning material, andthe technical ability and disposition to learn online, when online might previously have meant socializing on facebook or browsing without intention or gaming.

5. Back to the issue of women: some women in the region are privileged and can do all manner of things including traveling to learn abroad. Others have some privilege but are restricted by circumstances such as responsibilities caring for their children. This second group can benefit greatly from the flexibility of a free MOOC. However, there remains a portion for whom getting online remains an issue (even if the household continues to have access) for social reasons, and these remain excluded.

I don’t even think I have begun to cover all the issues here. But it is a start to both recognizing the empowerment potential and critiquing the hype and possible pitfalls one can fall into if we are not careful.

Note: some of these ideas came out of conversations with the Edraak providers as well as conversations on fb with rhizo14 participants.

* Note added Feb 22: the way I have categorized the courses here is different from the way Edraak categorize them. Their three categories are as follows
1. Arabic language university MOOCs (either original content from Arab professors, or translated and re-contextualized from existing EdX MOOCs)
2. Arabic language vocational MOOCs taught by Arab role models who are not academics
3. English language MOOCs by Arab presenting the Arab perspective to the world


Books: how do they ever get published?

I love books, I love reading. I love the feel of them, the smell of them. I read almost anything and everything, in any format: I love audiobooks and kindle books for various reasons (mainly accessibility, portability, time efficiency, and my toddler can’t tear them apart) but still like turning pages. But I do have problems with the idea of print. I will share a few anecdotes now, then write a more reflective post later.

It is my thesis defense. The external examiner asks a fundamental question about what critical thinking (the subject of my thesis)means to me. I hate the question because I say explicitly in my thesis that I think it should be contextually conceptualized in a participatory manner. But I answer it anyway. The examiner looks at me quizzically and says, “but those ideas don’t come through very strongly in your thesis”, and I say, “yes. That is because I submitted the thesis before these ideas crystallized in my mind… These are ideas based on Egypt’s recent context, which I wrote about later (between thesis submission and defense time) in my critical citizenship article). And that’s the point. We submit a piece to be read by others, but our thinking does not stop there. It goes on, it evolves, but we lose control over it once it is published. That is a lot of control to give up.

Many scholars write books with ideas that contradict each other. It is good that they are able to retract, modify,etc., but many readers will not have access to all these newer ideas, not older ones. I find Edward Said cited for Orientalism (which I believe he felt misunderstood about) than Culture and Imperialism which was supposed to be a follow-up.

Social media changes that. I know recently of someone who went back and edited a blogpost because of some backlash/misunderstandings parts of it had caused. That is power. I also reminds us of the uncertainty of impermanence of the web… As a researcher, I am now frustrated that I cannot go back and find that part of the blogpost again and refer to it as part of shat had happened at the time.

Two more thoughts: in FutureEd, Descartes is cited for having saying “books cloud the mind” – i wonder if he said it or actually wrote it in a book! Ironic?

Also, I have a very strong view against sanctity of any body of knowledge to be taught/read in edu settings are inherently more valuable than other writing. I also think it is our engagements with text as readers that can result in learning, not simple reading.

I read the Quran often (almost daily) and static though it may seem to be, it speaks to me differently every time. It is the same words and letters. It is not the same meanings each time.

And so it is with all forms of speech/writing… They are all words, they can be interpreted in various ways (e.g. Terry elliot’s impedagogy word!) whether they be oral or written. The problem with books is they seem set in stone and less dynamic than e.g, social media and more formal than e,g, speech, but words represent ideas, and those are never static. We only make mistakes in treating them as such.