I am not sure why Leigh Blackall is photoshopping folks in unseemly garb or comparing me to an eduprenuer—I dig Leigh, and I’m down right confused. #ds106 is a vision of freedom, idea of rethinking open ed, and challenging ideas of property ownership and the future of education—even if only a bit. Man, there are few people I’d rather work with, but I maybe just don’t understand the humor, but I want to cause I try not to take myself too seriously—I’ve seen where that can lead you. Let the airwaves help us think and create, and leave the nonsense to institutions.
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Generations from now, they won't call it the Internet anymore. They'll just say, "I logged on to the Jim Groom this morning.
Everything Jim Groom touches is gold. He's like King Midas, but with the Internet.
My understanding is that an essential requirement of the internet is to do whatever Jim Groom asks of you while you're online.
-James D. Calder
@jimgroom is the Billy Martin of edtech.
My 3yr old son is VERY intrigued by @jimgroom's avatar. "Is he a superhero?" "Well, yes, son, to many he is."
Jim Groom is a fiery man.
-Antonella Dalla Torre
“Reverend” Jim “The Bava” Groom, alias “Snake Pliskin” is a charlatan and a fraud, a self-confessed “used car salesman” clawing his way into the glamour of the education technology keynote circuit via the efforts of his oppressed minions at the University of Mary Washington’s DTLT and beyond. The monster behind educational time-sink ds106 and still recovering from his bid for hipster stardom with “Edupunk”, Jim spends his days using his dwindling credibility to sell cheap webhosting to gullible undergraduates and getting banned from YouTube for gross piracy.
I am Jim Groom
Find out more about me here.
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You are a bigger man than I, Jim, these latest tantrums of Leigh’s are the final straw for me. I’ve been confused for a while about Leigh’s position on many, many things. Now he just seems petty.
I’ll stand next to Leigh… then we’ll run into the back-country so you can’t find us.
“I speak about radical monopoly when one industrial production process exercises an exclusive control over the satisfaction of a pressing need, and excludes nonindustrial activities from competition.” – Illich
Quit your cushy day jobs funded by hard working tax payers… make a real difference, bring down the institutions you claim to abhor. Edupunks – hypocrites the lot of them…
I read the edupreneur post a few times, and it takes a few passes to see it as a compliment. He is not saying you have sold out, but if it were your desire you probably could, but at a cost,
The Nazi photo thing I do not get, but it is that dark side underbelly of the net you have to allow for as the other side of the coin of openness. Maybe he us not saying that us how things are, but in some distorted myopic world view?.. I dunno.
Frankly, stuff like that is not worth your attention, defintely gasoline on flames us any response.
Keep your eye focused on the stuf you do
I can totally take criticism. The cult of personality comment is perfectly valid. The nazi bullshit is not OK.
If Leigh has a critique of me, or anything I’ve done, I welcome it. But hiding behind a photoshop job accusing me of being a nazi? that’s just fucked up.
Peter, I never said I abhor the institution. I believe universities are needed now more than ever. I’m working from the inside, to do the little I can in order to help make things better. Wow, that DOES make me sound like a fascist and a nazi. I can totally see where he came up with the imagery.
Sorry you feel this way, but the last thing I want to do is rehash the edupunk thing, this is freedom from it. And try and dress it up as me all you want. it’s not, it’s something else–something much cooler. Anyway, I think I am done with this vibe, I am gonna turn my attention to things I care about, and create something—however fraught and less than holy it might be.
Thank-you Darcy, I think you have made the connection… Though, Leigh may have the last word on this.
Jim, ignore the vibe, it will be back… until properly dealt with… [evil laugh] bwahahaha, bwahahaha…
Peter, you and Leigh are totally two peas in a pod, so enjoy the company. You have NO fucking clue what any of us do outside our institutions and anyways, who the fuck put you in a position to judge? So, go fuck yourself and the horse you rode in on. Hope that is clear enough.
Ooooooooo… I think we have touched a nerve… look deeper… OWM.
The short but measurable difference between marketing and genuine joy in sharing is the tiny margin by which human life is possible.
There’s some irony in the fact that the image was a black and white…
Wow, you guys are all way to serious… holy shit folks. I regularly see Jim joking about full on surveillance of everyone’s activities and that he is the internet, and you all joke at treating him with such reverence and he’s the second coming. And then one of your peers pastes a few of your faces on some photos of Hitler and his friends and you all freak out… I again call you out on the edupunk bullshit and you recoil. What’s up? In the past have I considered some of you my friends… have you lost your ability to be the butt of jokes or are you only able to dish?
I was going to stay out of this, but I just can’t help myself. So let me get this straight? If I agree with a person’s opinions, or respect their work, or help hype up something that I feel ownership of, I am somehow a mindless drone? Seems cheap and petty to me to make that accusation.
We gravitate to ideas and forces that inspire us. #ds106 is not about Jim Groom, (Sorry Jim) it is about us. And I will not let anyone take that away from me. Through our creativity, doubts, and boldness we are connecting our edges and seeing if there is something that can fly on its own. To even talk about marketing and money is to defile the very nature of art.
Call me naive or a romantic or even a Nazi, but I am connecting to this group of people like no other group since I have been online. You might say I am in awe, you could call me infatuated, but really I am feel accepted- better said necessary. My voice is a thread in a tapestry that does not yet know what it will look like. I find joy in that.
Thank you for all who are involved and for the haters…well, You have had your time. Let’s make some art damn it. (Does repeating a catch phrase make me a member of the Cult of Bava? Doh! Did it again. The Reverend will be upset. I can’t stop.) Ah, forget it…
@Peter some, most of us are not a part of this group, nor necessarily want to be. I understand that there is a tight group of “edupunks” that goes back years and has a history, but the beauty of this project is its openness and conscious effort to move past that, no beyond it.. There is no posturing or elitism. Seems to be the questions is , “what next? and with who?
I reacted, not solely to defend Jim, as I said earlier, but to defend the course and the ideas it represents. The photo did not attack only one person, it devalued the work we are all doing.
Not sure I get the joke in that.
One last post, cause your comments are important. Please do not let rhetoric, history and critique take you away from your enjoyment of this course… I listened to your work and it was outstanding. Tune out the banter and focus on the creation. Stumbling across these kind of creative groups is an outstanding event in life… I’m a performer myself and I live for those rich and humanizing events…
What has surprised me the most is that some ideas were put on the table [particularly, the importance of branding in an edu2.0 world (with tongue firmly in cheek)] using imagery and a vocabulary that often used by jim himself and the author of the idea was character assassinated by what I now consider the cult of jim.
I believe this is somewhat a turning point for jim and the brand he has created (whether he likes it or not) he has become a brand, known (and followed) for his outstanding work as an innovator, facilitator and edupunk. I believe he will now have to think twice before he does a course completely in the open. Or maybe he will have to reconsider the way he engages… for his approach calls for responses like he has received…
Jabiz, don’t let jims sordid past devalue your current work!
for the record:
Leigh made 2 photos, one of Jim as Hitler (linked in article) & one as Mao. both of which are from the Wikipedia article on “Cult of Personality” he links to below the image.
additionally, below the photos on flickr he got similar reactions to these comments. he responded twice here and here. i’m re-pub’ing them here for posterity in case he takes down the photos.
about 8 hours later
Wow, it took me a while to get to the news reader after a busy day today. The emailed apologies sent personally, and requests for clear instruction on delete or keep, went unanswered, and my attempts to explain and more importantly clarify, are also ignored. So I’ll try to keep abreast of the discussion here on the network.
My sadness has turned to dismay, now to anger and perhaps open hostility. I hold out hope that Jim will at least forgive me, dig deep and give me the benefit of the doubt here.
Guys! Think back to when we met in 2009. Did I fail so badly at conveying myself as an honest, open bloke? Did I travel all the way to Vancouver, excited to meet you all, only to turn on you like this, and you on me? No! There must be more to this right? Maybe there’s not, maybe you know long before I do that this was just pain dumb, but where are you asking me for the doubt? Instead, you’re jumping to conclusions, allowing me to be called a fuckwit, petty and jealous!! This goes beyond a misunderstood freaking image, drawing out more truth than I’m prepared to confront right now!
I do not think Jim, D’Arcy or Brian are Nazis! That’s just ridiculous. Nor was I comparing you to an edupreneur Jim. I know the complaints aren’t about that, but its context. I was seriously suggesting further steps you could consider, to take your work further. I want you too, and I would think highly of you if you tried. It would look nothing like that inglorious edupreneur I held you next to. The 2 (yes 2!) images I created were sketches inspired by a very thought provoking (I thought) comment left on that post.
The 2 images I created, the black and white one of Nazis in front of a shit load of people, and the more intimate colour Chinese social realist poster, with Jim instead of Chairman Mao on the wall, were both taken from the Wikipedia entry for Cult of Personality. I arrived at that page after MWS left a reference rich comment to my blog post about Jim recently.
OK, I know you guys know all this already, but its important. There are 2 images, not one. You’ve taken offense at 1 when both should be confronting. Aside from the frightening inconsistency in the velocity of the complaints, I want to repeat that these images are a study on a critique of us all! As offered by MWS, using poor old Jim as the poster boy, done to death already, but still … fun. At least fun was the intention.
I’m still thinking on the critique, and D’Arcy seems to have it thought out already, but its something like – as we discuss the demise of the institution, convincingly proposing that we replace it with networked individualism, we perhaps pave the way for cult empowered celebrity, inevitably crushing discourse and democracy by doing so, the reason the institutions were formed in the first place. That’s the question I’m on at the moment. I’M NOT suggesting D’Arcy, Jim or Brian are doing this. I’m suggesting we are all doing this, and having a lot of fun, and pain, doing it.
I’m realising that, as much as we might loath the institutions as they are right now, we may come to wish for them again, when the things they’ve historically protected go with them. I hear you, they’re already lost – I agree. Hallowed ground of activism, protest, social critique, we’ve already lost this, but the potential for a return is arguably more likely with the institutions still, more so than the individualised, deinstitutionalised vision some of us share.
As I said in the comment thread on Flickr recently:
I’ve poked fun at us all here, we share a belief in this networked learning MOOC/edupunk thing to varying degrees. My face was in there [the Nazi image] for a time even! But I whited it out thinking it was presumptuous of me to think myself in your league! I should have pasted our faces in the crowd, as the”ignorant” supporters and ground layers for the real evil doers.
But it may be that its at this point we go our separate ways. Scott has jumped at the chance to dismiss my questioning over the past year, having called me a Climate Change denialist (references to Neo Nazism), and sent me a frightening youtube clip as a silent response to my concerns over Wikileaks, etc. So I’m not surprised to have found an end point with Scott disclosed here. I am sad though, really sad, to have so easily severed the trust and good fun we were all enjoying, and to have destroyed the years of connection we’ve had. I’m angry and hurt, that people I don’t even know, have jumped at the chance to call me a fuck wit, based on a quick glance at the Nazi image and not much else, and for those contributions to go unmoderated by the guys I thought friends. Equal to the offense I’ve caused with the image I’d argue.
What next, poor old Jim Groom as Piss Christ?
I might also add a defense to Peter. Peter is a really great guy, packed with integrity and wisdom, and not afraid of a shit fight. We’ve known each other through Wikieducator, and the political breakdowns there, that make this affair look like a teenage slumber party gone awry.
Peter was the first to bring a balance to the edupunk meme, with a frustrating, cutting truth. I’m thankful for him sticking his neck out in this hostile space, while others email me quiet words of support. We love and respect what you’ve done guys, thought that was obvious, but might need constant upkeep.
A bit of an outsider’s view – I don’t know Leigh, and don’t read his blog regularly, so don’t know the background. My view was that the image caused a ‘woah’ reaction, it just seemed _so_ inappropriate (and if my face had been in it I would have been very upset). But I’d accept his statement above that it was meant as a joke, but was just a very poorly judged one. Humour is always a tricky element to employ (when I joined the OU I was firmly instructed to never use humour in course materials, which is a loss I think).
As to the post, I found it a tad difficult to follow, but I think there is an interesting idea in there. We all know Jim isn’t really about to set himself up in business, that move would itself undermine what he does. But if education were to be disaggregated, as some have suggested, then is there a viable model for educators to still make a living? The figures Leigh gives suggest probably not, apart from a few individuals who could create a significant individual brand (which I think he was using Jim as an example for). That seems to me to be an ok idea to explore.
Don’t understand the comment above about us bringing down institutions – we neither abhor them or want to destroy them. We _love_ universities which is why we are critical of them and want to see them adapt and persist. A world full of social media gurus selling their wares and no universities would be a sad, desperate one indeed.
Anyway, I’m off to photoshop a picture of Jim, Brian and D’Arcy as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg…
Decided to bow out and tweak an acoustic version of an OMD song we were talking about the other day instead. Like Martin said, this ain’t my fight.
Life is too short, hoping this in no way affects the spirit of #ds106.
It’s a joke. I don’t get it, but that’s fine. I stopped responding to the comment threads because I just don’t have the energy for this bullshit. And I didn’t ignore an email from Leigh, because I never received one. I don’t need one, either. I consider this closed. Can we all just move on now? Let’s make some art, dammit!
Leigh, I don’t think I “called” you a climate change denialist, more asked you if you *seriously* were, based on the links you were tweeting that seemed to be positing a conspiracy in the science behind climate change. I don’t recall making any Nazi references in that context, and serious apologies if I did.
What you took to be a “frightening” clip in response to your concerns over wikileaks was *my own* attempt at a joke through what I had thought would be a shared pop culture reference, simply pointing out your apparent affinity for conspiracy theories (“everyone’s out to get you, mutherfucka.”) Given my own proclivities and regular portrayal of myself as a conspiracy theorist, I had hoped you had understood it in that light, but apparently it too missed the mark.
You are totally entitled to question whatever you like – just don’t be surprised if you then leave people with little sense of where you are *actually* coming from. Why is that important? Well, you certainly engender a lot more generosity of interpretation if critiques didn’t seem to run so strongly to extremes.
The image is replaced, the discussion remains. Sorry for all offense caused.
“The image is replaced”
This is a wise move.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, if you want to lock horns with Jim for his edupreneurship or for any or all of the contradictions involved in an anti-institutional rhetoric launched from the bosom of the institution, then go ahead. The very ill-considered image, I hope you’ll have noticed, simply distracted attention away from any validity that your argument may have had.
Martin and Jon both point to interesting topics and questions brought up by Leigh (http://leighblackall.blogspot.com/2011/01/lucrative-teaching-quick-look-at-josh.html) in the post that led directly to the now-redacted image, topics that shouldn’t be lost, I don’t think. And maybe I just don’t read Leigh’s blog regularly enough, or in sequence, but I didn’t see that post as snarky or negative even if it gets at something that is uncomfortable for me too.
I came to this late. I didn’t see the picture. I did read the article.
I read the article as a satire not of Jim, but of what a marketing agency would say to Jim. It’s similar in style to the sort of parody one sees around — Jerry Bruckheimer makes script notes on Casablanca, that sort of thing. Jim is Casablanca in that analogy, I don’t think it’s a hit job. It’s not really a compliment either, except maybe indirectly. Jim is just an example of something a marketer can take to the “next level”.
On Scott’s point, I think Leigh’s general politics are misguided, and I would urge him to look into the deep and sordid relationship between conspiracy theory & rascism, nationalism, & nativism. But that’s neither here nor there.
Here’s the thing I want to say — there’s a point here which Leigh has not made very well, and which I have been trying to make the past couple of years, and have not made very well, and which I’ve seen others struggling with and not making well, and IT’S AN IMPORTANT FUCKING POINT.
When institutions disappear, what fills the vacuum? Is it going to be just glorious people power, or something more sinister?
The glory of Jim is that he’s a great guy. Like a guy I’d like as a neighbor a coworker, whatever. The glory of The Bava though, is that he’s liminal, a charismatic figure looping through the deep space of the net while orbiting an institution. And it works. It’s amazing.
Leigh’s question what happens when that institution disappears? How does the beautiful thing we have now become either enhanced or perverted when we are free of our orbits?
Some people think it will be as beautiful as it is now, just bigger and everywhere. I don’t think that. I think we are looking at things that thrive in that tension the liminal space creates, but once free of it may degrade to the very things we loathe. Cults of Personality, Power Law dynamics, crass commercialism, spam as culture.
I don’t think I know that will happen for sure, but I don’t think anybody really knows which way this thing will break if institutions can’t rise to the challenge and get the axe. I’m ambivalent myself. There are multiple possible futures. Some really suck.
In any case, they say that nothing is more painful than watching your beliefs poorly expressed. That’s what I feel like here. But I think despite being badly presented & directed, Leigh’s concerns are important and relevant and timely.
These are similar to the questions I am asking on Leigh’s post, though you add the interesting thought about whether or not some of this can only exist in a space of conflict with the institution, whether there is hypocrisy in the positioning of the players or not… I’m not nearly as confident institutions will disappear, though they may more and more resemble media conglomerates than places of significant learning.
So had the discussion been laid out like either Mike or Chris has, wow, that could have been REALLY productive, a discussion I’ve participated in many times, and would like to continue. Too bad, because that is NOT how the discussion was laid out; no, it was framed in terms of “cults of personality,” pictures of Nazis, and apparently satirical (but hard at least for me to tell) writing about edupreneurs. Even Leigh’s lengthy reply above shows that he is totally capable of lucid, non-inflamatory writing on the topic. So maybe this was just a mistake, and a mistake on my part to impute motives that weren’t there. The damage is likely done. Too bad, because the broad topics of new relations, of groups, individuals, networks, power, identity, knowledge etc is fascinating and I believe key to our evolution. But this doesn’t seem like the way to engage it.
Scott: I don’t quite understand your sentiment that because of the way the conversation was started it must now be closed and you shall brook no discussion. This was my point about being a teachable moment: one can either decide “fuck this, there’s no point to talking” when confronted with something offensive or mysterious or whatever, or one can take a look at the context and questions that motivated that something in the first place and see if there is more “there there” than is apparent at the surface level. I don’t see the downside of engaging in the “fascinating” points of discussion; I don’t understand “the damage is done” in that respect.
Whether you choose to participate in the further discussion or not (and if you don’t, that really is too bad, because I think of you as one of the more important people tangentially involved in this whole thing and I’m a bit surprise that you would be one who would see someone make a mistake, admit to it and post in a “lucid, non-inflamatory” way about it, and then slam the door on them), I hope the questions and concerns, some of which are uncomfortable to examine, perhaps, aren’t swept under the rug as I think it (too) easy to do.
Without trying to lessen the effect in any way of the inflammatory image, I wonder if there hasn’t been an added dose of intensity to the reaction because those questions and concerns do get at a difficult and twisted and complementary part of the enterprise of many of those (us) involved when it comes to institutions and revolutions and innovation.
Chris, you know very well that myself, yourself, Brian, Jim, D’Arcy and many others have struggled with and discussed these issues for a long time, both privately and publicly. And I am willing to engage in these discussions, around the evolution of the institution, the prospect of itinerant network scholars, and the like. But I’ve yet to be convinced of the merits of then framing these discussions around the topic of the “cult of personality” nor of depicting people dressed in Nazi garb. But the exchanges above *have* taken place, the damage *is* done, by Leigh, by me. So please, if you feel strongly about them continuing, write a post. If you think there is in fact lots of value in framing the whole discussion as Leigh did, then feel free to take that line too. It didn’t seem to go over so well if you ask me, and not just with me. Which is what I was commenting on.
You’ve lost me with the insistence that I need to start a post saying the same things that are being said here in order to meet your criteria for participating. You can’t let what happened earlier go in order to address what’s happening now, I guess, which is disappointing. The “framing” you keep referring to is over and done, the conversation has moved on– or is trying to– it’s in a different frame for some of us and it’s disappointing that you refuse to. The only damage that continues to be done exists, at this point, at your insistence and the ongoing refusal to discuss the issues that are at hand NOW in service of smarting over what happened YESTERDAY.
This reaction by yourself (and, apparently, silent others) is enlightening, though… it speaks to what friendships that exist mostly online are about and, I think, makes some of Sherri Turkle’s points real in a very forceful way. God forbid anyone who mistakenly believes they will receive the kind of assumption of good faith and normally associated with friendships make a mistake or they will be shut down and shut out. Perhaps the more long-lasting mistake is the assumption that the group being addressed was something other than a clique and a club capable of moving on when presented the opportunity.
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[Written on a Saturday after a brain-numbing, day-long graduate course in education, which should explain volumes about both the decision to write and the quality of the writing.]
So way over here in Singapore, this blissfully self-exiled American surfaces from his favorite week of each semester of the History of China course — the week of trying to turn students on to Confucianism and Taoism. It worked yesterday in spades, lighting what I more and more fear is an unregenerate breed of iPod-vampired reeds to honest-to-god spiritual excitement. So I’m feeling all sane from the sage-hits and happy from the successful transmission of lasting relevance of those dead sages to my living students. (If he weren’t dust, Confucius would be smiling at that last line — he was a history teacher too, for all the right reasons. He got off on the Shujing the way I get off on the Analects and on Zhuangzi’s texts. He wanted to share that bliss with his students, and so do I.)
Anyway, I read about this #dl106 thing or whatever on Downes’ OLDaily — about my only regular edugeek read any more, I’m so deep into China studies — so I click over and snoop because it sounded interesting.
And Lo! I behold this sad kerfuffle. So verily, I spake unto myself, and said: “Screw it. You don’t know these guys and never will. So give them the sermon and to hell with it. If they have ears, they’ll hear.”
So have this chosen bit of homespun from the Analects:
If Catholic nuns are more your style, then try this one instead:
Here’s to buried hatchets, bygones, and magnanimity (great word: “big-soulness”).
Now back to that (suddenly ironic?) celebration of creativity I’d originally clicked over to check out. Or maybe to Zhuangzi instead.
A little confused? me too. Confused that those of you who are offended by this have expressed reaction/s that are far worse than the intention in the image itself! Why has there been no mention or offence at the Mao image? Or why are you allowing Leigh (a friend) to be called a fuckwit? It is obvious (to the western world) that depicting the edupunks as nazis would be shallowly offensive. So it should be obvious that this is not the intention here. C’mon now guys I thought you were all intelligent folk. Talking and no listening, and you say you want to make art?
Just wondering…did EDUpunks grow their hair back too ?
I’m sorry I missed the original image; the commentary’s been pretty entertaining. It really highlights just how enmeshed we all are in the cult of our own personalities 🙂
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Ah, go on vacation and come back and wow!
Chris, I just wanted to thank you for your reframing… creating space to talk about something that is challenging. I really appreciated what you brought – and perhaps because I’m reading this all at once, it feels like a “turning” that opens new space.
Jim, I have a question for you. What are the costs of being a performer and artist? How are they different or the same as being, lets say, a teacher. Where is there overlap and where is their difference? What are the costs of a performers identity?
This probably should be a question asked in a “fresh thread” or post. I’d be interested in this conversation as it is very related to a question I have to keep asking myself as a facilitator. I know that facilitation can become facipulation. I know it can become about me if I overuse the aspect of performance. I know that ego, personality, even play itself is a two edged sword I must use with as much wisdom and respect as I can. I fail in this area pretty regularly and consider it one of my prime learning edges.
I want to know more about how to productively use that edge because I love performance. I recognize it both as a powerful force and a potential trap that rests on using one’s ego productively. It is one of the reasons I’m attracted to your work is to see how you use this edge, how it powers or sometimes punishes you?
Is this worth a conversation some where? Is it a story for ds106?
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