Another solstice wassailed. Christmas just a few hours away. Another turning year. And it’s been a memorable one.
Ewan McIntosh did a lovely rundown on his year a Christmas or two ago and I remember thinking at the time; nice idea, must do something like that sometime… But then I never seem to have blogged enough either in terms of quality or quantity ! There are so many gaps and lost moments in the Belfield blog that sometimes I wonder why I bother at all. Then I think about the critical impact of just inquiring, as I do when I try to write an entry, and in that most Irish of all traditions: I can’t go on, I’ll go on…
Despite the presence (as they say) of more absences in the Belfield chronology than there are ideas in a DES IT policy framework, three places stand out, when I actually get around to looking back over the year, and two events:
Venice. And I think I’ll carry the better moments of that trip with me for a long time. So many threads came together. Hope and even expectation where previously there had been little or nothing. Though in the way of these things coming togethers also signify endings. Ciò nonostante: Grazie mille di cuore a La Serenissima e la mia ragazza…
Ljubljana. Again. And again a bagful of memories to help shore up the quotidian nature of what passes as a day job. Corso and three casual conversations with strangers over the length of a morning sitting drinking good coffee and watching the river and the rest of it pass me by. Heartening in a surprising way. Those conversations started me out on the track of (rediscovering) Giroux and pushing along what I started ages ago on Sabatier – to the point that I would actually seek him out for a conversation at another memorable event in another beautiful city.
And most recently, Göteborg. Not just for the reception what I had to say received there – though that really was a good moment! – but more especially for the discussions with participants and other keynotes in the days before and after the conference. There’s a lot to be said for a good meal and an intense head-to-head with half a dozen well-wired academics, thinking librarians and open access advocates.
The first event that lingers happened early in the year. And it would be comical – or at least mordantly funny – if it wasn’t so disheartening at the time. One of those questionable decisions that I can make put me in front of a fellowship board. It was supposed to be to do with developing innovative pedagogies in higher education. And so there I was, chasing a sliver of possibility but knowing in my heart I was wasting my time. The full insight hit in force as I sat there fielded another inane question from another inane member of the board – I can’t remember whether it was the singularly unqualified ‘lead’ on academic policy or the director of Teaching & Development who has no experience of either. But I knew then that this was a closed and bolted door. Wherever things were going, they was going without me and nothing I could say or do would change that. My regrets around that moment are twofold; first, that I actually engaged at all with what had from teh start all the makings of another exercise in cronyism, and second that I didn’t just up and leave the room, there and then. At least there would have been some moral courage involved in doing that.
The second event was the standing ovation I got for my contribution to the Göteborg conference. And the topic? Innovative pedagogies in higher education. Sweet that. And restorative.
But now, perhaps it’s time to move on.