Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle. ~ Alice, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
José de Creeft’s Alice in Wonderland bronze statue glimmers in Central Park, polished by children’s climbing hands. Alice, of Wonderland fame, is a character who resonates with me. She is ingrained enough in my thinking that she makes more than a passing appearance in my PhD thesis. What I love about Alice is that she is open to new places and perspectives. She is curious, receptive and constantly wondering. She thrives on meeting new creatures and on having unusual, wondrous experiences. She is the imaginative adventuress who at once embodies childhood awe, strong self-assurance, rationality and fear-conquering daring. In many ways she is a flâneuse of Wonderland: wanderer, wonderer, learner and observer.
The question of self is not straightforward. Various aspects of our tangled selves collide and interlock. Or perhaps, rather than tangled webs of gossamer self-threads, we are each kaleidoscopes of self. Forged from a range of asymmetrical elements, we form the spectacularity of the beautiful changeable selves we are when viewed together through a cylinder of mirrors and light.
My kaleidoscopic self is made up of a number of different selves which my @debsnet Twitter bio attempts to unify:
Wanderer. Wonderer. Dreamer. Reader. Writer. Creator. Educator. PhD researcher. Passionista. Disruptor. Imaginer. Innovator. Flâneuse.
Not included are other personal selves like parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend. There are many contexts in which I share all or some of these self aspects. As the kaleidoscope turns and the light changes, people see different patterns reflected from me.
My self-threads splinter, intertwine and blossom, as they do through the kaleidoscope viewing hole.
As I reflected in a previous post, connecting with other educators is for me about being my learner self. Connecting and collaborating widens and globalises my perspectives, while encouraging my own thinking and reflection (see Tom Whitby’s recent post about the relationship between connection and reflection). My teacher self is informed daily by my experiences as a parent, my own learning as a PhD candidate and my online participation. My Twitter interactions are influenced by my daily experiences of parenting, researching and working in a school. My parenting is influenced by my teacherly and researcherly thinking about learning and development. My PhD research self interacts with other researchers on social media as well as being informed by my in-practice educator immersion in my academic topic of study. My PhD itself incorporates me as learner, educator, writer, reader, creator and self-conscious researcher. And here on this blog my posts tangle together the threads of my learner, teacher, researcher, parent, writer and artist selves.
A dear friend of mine recently sent me this quote which I’m sure resonates with many of us:
When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with cries of ‘Me too!’ be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe. ~ Nanea Hoffman
It strikes me that many of those with whom I connect, in life, in education, in research and in my online PLN, are those whose quirks are similar to mine. Their kaleidoscope colours reach out to me across time, space, geography and social media.
I was recently involved in a Twitter chat with a number of educators. A few people in the chat began talking about being proud to be dorky, to be okay with failure and to constantly be learning. When I tweeted back ‘yes – fellow geeks unite!’ there was a chorus of ‘amen’ and ‘ditto’. I felt like I’d been high fived over Twitter. Here were my fellow weirdos, people who I’ve never met, connecting with me from across the world. “Yes,” they were saying, “In this moment, I get you and you get me.”
Next week I fly to New York to connect in a very real and immersive way with fellow educators, researchers and thinkers who will widen my perspectives. Perhaps I will widen theirs by sharing my Australian story. As this blog attests, I am hoping that my trip will allow my total and joyful submersion in all my aspects of selfhood. I will be thinking, writing, note taking, photographing, drawing and flâné-ing my way to new connections, new reflections and new perspectives.
The word kaleidoscope comes from the Greek words kalos, eidos and skopeō which essentially translate together into ‘beautiful form to observe’. Here’s to finding the beauty in others’ idiosyncrasies and to each of us finding our quirky global tribe.