Long Line: Context

This post is part of a series of posts pulled from a piece of writing I completed in November 2012. For more information on this series, see this post.

Context | Looking Back | Transformation | Looking Back at the Looking Back | Questions | On ethics | Letting Go of Nothing | Taking on Subject and Objects | On meaning making | Why the language of causality trouble me | Conceptual versus Empirical | Futuring | Temporality and Time | Brief Note | Back to Time | What to do with the Past | Some tools to help us be | An example from my past | Avoiding Labels | The educational turn | Being and curriculum | Curriculum of Being | Curriculum Futuring | On dispositions as ways of being | Being and pedagogy | Being and technology | Being and the body | References



The study of curriculum was fruitful for me this term. The “benchmark” topics of standards, objectives, capabilities, and curriculum reconceptualizations were useful as additional threads to my interests in being and teaching/learning. I am not sure if I can attempt any answers to my questions. My overarching questions not only drive my interests but connect those interests to the larger-than-life questions that motivate the rest of life (if such a fragmentation is possible). What I hope to do in this final piece of writing is collect some of my thoughts, observations, and reflections into some type of cohesive document. I am unsure of whether this will be actualized.

One of the writers that has entranced me this term is Michel Serres. I think I will need to expand on this idea a bit later, but I like to approach Serres (and others) to look for “tools” that can help loosen our apparently firm grip on the reality of things*. As Marco spoke of, I am gesturing in the direction of those “gaps” where language cannot access. In the Conversations text** Serres speaks with Bruno Latour about his academic and non-academic background and how that has informed his work. A theme that I think is underdeveloped in Latour’s follow-up questions is that of Serres’ grounding in topology. Serres discusses his mathematical background in topology and how this frames his approach to writing and philosophy in the first conversation, but he refers to it again and again through the five conversations. As I sit to prepare to carry through with this piece of writing I am holding Serres’ frame of topology firmly in my grasp. I know where this piece of writing begins, but I only have a rough idea of where it will end. I think I have a few benchmarks, rest areas, or boundaries to guide the writing, and there is absolutely a directionality or trajectory. However, I do not have a full understanding of the topology of my thinking quite yet. I think, to be more direct, that in the writing of this piece, the map may become clearer. Or it may dissolve. Either way, something will have happened that will be important.

I decided to explore what the web has to say about topology and, thanks to Wikipedia, I feel secure in my using the notion:
Topology (from the Greek τόπος, “place”, and λόγος, “study”) is a major area of mathematics concerned with the most basic properties of space, such as connectedness. More precisely, topology studies properties that are preserved under continuous deformations, including stretching and bending, but not tearing or gluing. The exact mathematical definition is given below. Topology developed as a field of study out of geometry and set theory, through analysis of such concepts as space, dimension, and transformation.***

The words that jump from this introductory paragraph are useful in situating a context for this writing, I think: place, study, connectedness, continuous, stretching and bending, not tearing, space, transformation. But before dealing with the present and the future, I think it may be useful for me to turn around and make a few connections to where I have been and where I am coming from. Whether this is useful or not to the writing I am unsure; I know it is useful for myself.


* I am still not fully comfortable with the terminology of “tools”; I attended Gert Biesta’s presentation at UBC on Pragmatism in Educational Research and he shared a similar hesitation to using works like tools, perspectives, and frameworks. I am not sure what that leaves us with to talk with, but tools has become the default.
** Serres, M. & Latour, B. (1995). Conversations on science, culture, and time. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topology


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