Susan Watson cracked me up with her comic, The Systems of Comics. She is very clever and funny.
That’s too small to read but you can see the original here. Terry must have made hundreds of these. Here’s one. I decided to try and make my own. It is the first in a series of Personal Conversations at Melbourne High School.
I have a plan for this series and also for another to give our students voice. I’ve already asked some of our students for help. This should be fun.
And the Bigger (AlmostEvil) Plan is to infiltrate learning spaces in my school like a stealthy villain. One of my recent posts expressed frustration about the school system which resists reform and may have to be levelled first in order to be rebuilt. After reading Terry’s comment
I think I am done with reform as a way of re-thinking. I put a lot more faith in kind subversion, asking forgiveness and not permission, under the radar, subrosa, authentic learning.
I decided to act on an unformed idea I’d had nagging me for a while.
Taking the library out to the school is not a new idea but I think I need to up the ante with it. My new, as yet embryonic, idea is to hack the staffroom in a surprising way. Something along the lines of setting up a small and changeable pop-up shop/library when nobody’s looking. For example, mark the space somehow with a few artifacts, then leave things that beg to be played with and change these regularly. Some ideas so far: puzzles, gorgeous design pages for colouring in, quirky articles – and comics! Like this one. So I envisage leaving one comic per series and updating regularly. Series like ‘Professional conversations at MHS’ and ‘Student conversations at MHS’, and so on.
I’m trying a soft approach to hacking the school system. If, as I’ve said in a previous post, teacher librarians find it challenging to collaborate with teachers because teachers are driven to keep up with the curriculum, then we can entice them, seduce them in a way, with curriculum-irrelevant playful things that help them slow down, make things, laugh, and take a break from the system. Why not? My aim is to distract teachers, disrupt their single focus so that they might be more open to joining me in collaborative play in class.
And if that’s too ambitious, at least their (mis-)perception of teacher librarians (another blog post) might be popped like a giant bubble containing nothing but air. And that created space is something I will try to inhabit.
All ideas for a soft hack of learning spaces will be taken seriously and collected in a special container.
For this Make Cycle, we invite you to use game design to analyze, remediate, and reflect on complex systems. Last week, we noticed “the affordances and constraints that each medium offers (for and against) our purposes”. This week, let’s discuss what systems we see – and what happens when we change up the rules a bit.
Life is a complex system.
That’s why I wrote about life being a game – or not – in a previous post. I wanted to engage with people in different spaces so I shared the post on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. And the additional space – the Google Doc. I was tempted to add a Hackpad but was interrupted by a couple of tugs on the line. How to play in different spaces almost simultaneously? And then Terry Elliott created the Hackpad for me – a response to my piece using James Carse quotes. That was an interesting approach – playing the JamesCarseGamesBot. I’m still getting my head around Hackpad and its rabbit holes. And although people didn’t end up finding it, I appreciated Terry’s time taken and the flashlight he shone on isolated sections. I wonder what it would look like if others had come in. Terry knows that potential will not always be pursued, and he opens up possibilities often despite this.
You must leave this space to see my thread of the answer. For some this will be too much to ask. So be it:
I am the Carse Infinite GameBot and will be answering these questions in random order over the next 24 hours. Some questions I will not answer. Perhaps there will be a hidden message, perhaps it will be unintelligible. Ready player one?
So I guess I’m player one.
We invite you to use game design to analyze, remediate, and reflect on complex systems. So I’m not a gamer – that is, I usually avoid games like chess (can’t play it) or any strategic games which make my brain hurt; sports games; game shows; Scrabble, Monopoly, etc. Why? I don’t know. But I LOVE word games, language games, open-ended games, creative games. If I were to analyse the complex system of life in a playful way – in a gameful way – I would make sure that there were no rules that could not continue to be written. (Was that a double negative? So then I mean that the rules should evolve and be written and rewritten by any and all players). First of all, I really do think life is a game. There is no single correct way to play but many rhizomatic possibilities. You need players, so you play with others. And playing means practice, that is, you play one way, and then you play another way. Like drawing, and drawing another version. It’s complex; you can’t do it in one drawing. You need people. It’s the game of life.
While I was thinking I didn’t want Terry’s Hackpad version of my Life is a Game rant left unplayed. Threw a few things in. If you like, take a look here. I’d love you to play.
The Google Doc is play too. Thanks to you if you came in and played a while. It’s all generosity as far as I’m concerned. People adding creative responses to your work – it’s a gift. Thank you.
See what comes of play? I do like games after all. Thanks for playing.
Here is the thing. Below you will see the link to a Google Doc. This is your invitation to reMEDIAte this thing. I can do it myself but then I would be playing on my own. Please put on your safety belt. Put on your hard hat. Press play. There is no time limit. Thank you for playing.
Is life a game?
Take a card.
Are you playing the game?
Who are you?
Take another card.
How long have you been playing?
Did you ever win?
How many times did you win?
Can I start playing now?
Are the rules difficult?
Will it take me long to understand the rules?
Who else is playing?
How many people?
Answer the question.
What was the question?
Answer the question in the box provided in less than 25 words.
Shouldn’t that be fewer than 25 words?
Just answer the question. Then sign on the dotted line.
What’s your favourite colour?
Is this a game?
What is your favourite colour?
Is that an open ended question? Weren’t we supposed to have multiple choice?
What if I get the answer wrong?
Can I draw my answer?
Take another card.
Are you happy?
Is that an open-ended question?
Who else is playing?
What did they say?
Are they happy?
Just answer the question.
Can I dance the answer?
Are you alive?
Are you asking me if I’m living?
Just answer the question.
Can I take another card?
My favourite colour is blue.
Are you alive?
My favourite colour is green.
Take another card.
Is life a game?
Is that another open-ended question?
My favourite colour is red.
Is that your final answer?
I am living.
Are you alive?
What did the others say?
Are they happy?
Are they alive?
Who is asking the questions around here?
My favourite colour is yellow?
What is your favourite colour?
whatever the others said
Put a cross in the correct box.
I am not able to answer within the current limitations.
Here’s the final version of the play (although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Google doc version continues to evolve).
My THANK YOU: My original story, Mr X loses his battle for objectivity, has been stormed, hacked and now exists as an evolved creation belonging to those playing and learning in the rhizome (#rhizo15). It is no longer mine and that’s a fantastic thing, something I’m excited about. Thank you, everyone, for the experience – in particular to Kevin for putting together the audio files – but also to those contributing voices, to the voices in the chat comments for the evolving Google doc, to those on Twitter and other social media platforms, to the creative people designing promos, and anyone else I’ve forgotten. I know it sounds as if I’m accepting an Oscar (haha) but I really do want to thank all of you for the fun we’ve had together.
#Rhizoradio presents a radio play courtesy of the #rhizo15 community:
Ms Y1: Good afternoon. Please take a seat. Mr Arborescent will be with you shortly.
Me0: Thank you.
Inner Voice1: I take a seat and settle into the chair which is terribly uncomfortable. I am too large for the chair and always have been, but I’ve accepted it with the appropriate …
Ms Y2: So, Mr Arborescent will see you now. I assume you’ve brought your papers.
Me1: Er – papers?
Ms Y3: Yes, your CV, your references, your learning objectives.
Ms Y4:Never mind. Please go down the corridor. It’s the first red door after blue one…
Me3: Er – thank you.
Inner Voice2: I walk until I find the door. I knock twice.)
Me4: (mumbling to self, wandering hallways) How come there are so many doors here?
(knock on the door followed by sound of door squeaking open)
Mr Arborescent1: Come in, please. I would like to introduce you to Dr. Certain and Ms. KnowItAll
Inner Voice3: I enter the room. Mr Arborescent is sitting behind a large wooden desk, studying me. The two other committee members on either side of him.
Mr Arborescent2: Please, sit down.
Inner Voice4 My Thoughts (in my head)Narrator: I do.
Mr Arborescent3: So, you’re applying for the rest of your life, are you?
Ms. KnowItAll1: (interrupting) She IS.
Mr Arborescent4: You realise that you’re one of many millions of applicants – all wanting to keep learning for the rest of their lives, don’t you?
Me6: Yes. I understand. But you know, I myself am multiple…
Mr Arborescent5: (interrupts) Show me your learning objectives, please.
Me7: Well…I – um…
Dr. Certain1: This is outrageous!
Mr Arborescent6: (sighs) You do have learning objectives, don’t you? I hope you are not wasting my time.
Me8: N-not exactly.
Mr Arborescent7: Well how exactly do you intend to get through life without objectives? How will you know where you are going? How will you know when you get there? What data will you use?
Dr. Certain2: One cannot get through life without knowing where one is going. Where one is going is far more important than where one is. I certainly know where I’m going, where I came from, where my children will go.
Inner Voice5: Arborescent’s brow is seriously furrowed.
Me9: Actually – I don’t have objectives but –
Mr Arborescent8: You realise that we are talking about the rest of your life, don’t you? This is no laughing matter.
Me10: Well – if I could explain. I don’t, as you’ve said, have learning objectives for the rest of my life but what I do have is learning subjectives.
Inner Voice6: The room is silent. Uncomfortably silent.
Mr Arborescent9: I’m not sure what you’re playing at, but as I’ve already said, there are millions of people applying for this privilege. You’ve come here completely unprepared.
Me11: If I could just explain – I think you will understand that it’s possible to continue learning through life with learning subjectives in place of objectives.
Inner Voice7: Mr Arborescent lowered his thick rimmed glasses and peered intensely and unpleasantly at me.
Inner Voice8: I continued before he could speak.
Me12: You see, subjectives are a type of objective … only seen from a different perspective.
Mr Arborescent10: A different perspective! Please explain. (eye rolling) (to himself): Oh, you educators and your theories of learning …
Dr. Certain3: There is only one perspective: the RIGHT one!
Me13 (ignoring Dr. Certain): Well, with objectives you start from the end and work backwards whereas with subjectives you are free to move any which way and even simultaneously. Subjectives are based on learners’ needs, not dictated as in the objectives… There’s freedom in the journey.
Inner Voice9: Their looks of contempt did not deter me. In fact, they spurred me on. I realized, I had to make them understand.
Me14: You see, I’ve developed an allergy to things which support objectives. Things like preconceived ideas, data entered carefully into spreadsheets, dot points, meta-metrics, the narrow suffocating strangulation of finite theories, that sort of thing. I have an aversion to these things and I become so ill that I am unable to function.
Mr Arborescent11: I’m not sure our health insurance policy covers such sickness. The government plan only goes so far.
(Ms. KnowItAll adds over Arborescent: Oh, it won’t cover this, I can tell you!)
However, Go on… How would you measure, report your learning? Reveal your rubrics! What kind of standards are you following? Aversion is no justification…
Me15: Neither is measurement! We need to put learning at the center of our…er learning, not measurement and accountability you know. It’s my own learning here and i reserve the right to direct it however I see fit! It is my human right…
Dr. Certain4: Impossible! We will tell you what you need to know! Learning must be visible!
Inner Voice10: Arborescent’s eyes narrowed, and he started tapping a pencil on his desk. he seemed sort of annoyed at me.
Mr. Arborescent12: go on…
Inner Voice11: I swallowed.
Me16: (whispering in Egyptian Arabic: w ba3dein ba2aaa)
Me17: I need to approach life in a less organised, predetermined way. I need to include the way I feel, for example, in the way I understand life. I need to include questions and doubts in the way I make sense of things, I need mood changes and I also need to be able to synthesize seemingly illogical things into a new way of seeing. I need to follow – what I refer to as learning subjectives.
Mr Arborescent13 (all simultaneously): Preposterous! Absolutely preposterous. We need data! Not whimsy feelings! What is this? Some kind of therapy session?
Ms. KnowItAll2: She is completely unsuitable! No idea what she needs to learn.
Dr. Certain5: If we allow this, we invite chaos. Then where will we be? People learning anything?!! Outrageous! There are things everyone MUST know!
Inner Voice12: Their outbursts moved the large desk forward and Arborescent’s four generation family photos fell down with a crash.
Mr. Arborescent14: Now look what you’ve done!
Dr. Certain6: I saw this coming. Chaos, I tell you.
Me18: you do know that by accepting me, you are accepting multiples, right?
Mr. Arborescent15: Who said we were accepting you?
Ms. KnowItAll3: Certainly not I!
Me19: Although I appear as one person to you, I am a multiplicity. Because I am embracing my subjectivity, you will have access to all of the open aspects of my identity and influences beyond my person. Didn’t you notice the different voices, accents and languages used throughout this discussion?
MrA – What you are telling me is that you are rejecting MY good common sense and traditional values and insisting on this groundless faith in what can only be described as blasphemous nonsense. This is a NON-SENSE! Do you hear me?! You will not be able to go through lifelong learning clinging to these asinine beliefs. Get out! All of you!
Inner Voice13: There was only one thing to do. I wasted no time. In my mind I drew a cage around this dreadful man and his colleagues and locked them in. Tossed the key. Walked away. Their ranting and raving were repulsive. I transformed it into the sound of crashing waves and let it wash away from me, to become nothing in the infinite sea. I left them there in their salt water turbulence, thrashing at the iron bars. They were now but molluscs, doomed to forage in the mud amongst rhizomatic sea grasses for eternity. I had more important things to do. I had a subjective life to lead and I was quite willing and even pleased to not know exactly where I was going.
Inner Voice14: So I started talking to my multiple selves.
MeA: we don’t need them! We don’t need no certified learning! We don’t need no thought control! They don’t even get our weltanschauung. We will continue without them.
MeB: or interdependently! Let’s make our own organization. Our own rhizome. Divide & conquer!
MeC: and wait, to have impact, we need to challenge authority, to break down the institutional structures so more people can benefit from our idea of subjectives and so we can liberate them from these neoliberal chains. This is idtihad. That’s oppression in Arabic. It is zulm. Injustice in Arabic, though it has a much stronger connotation in Arabic.
MeD: i don’t know what you’re talking about, I just wanna have fun with my learning. Let’s write a song or write a play…
Me20: or we could just lead our subjective life, create our own space… We might need to wander a bit to find it.
MeB: exactly! I guess it can be a space not an organization… I don’t think we can convert him. He is too far gone … (sounds of ranting still in the background)
Me21: Learning is natural and intrinsic… Like a rhizome, like a phoenix.. Her defasında küllerimden doğarım… learning is actually rising from the ashes… I don’t need any objectives, I only need my subjectives to reborn and start a new cycle of learning…
MeC: and we need to think of ways of liberating the oppressor. We need to fight for other people’s rights… Subvert the system, cause a revolution, plant the seed, nurture the ideas, rewild ourselves without becoming the next oppressors!
MeF: yeah right, like that worked for Egypt…
MeB: Tell me why we wanted that job again?
MeC: I don’t even remember anymore. What a learning experience this has been!
MeG: Hey! You lot are so noisy! I am trying to sleep here! Jeesh. Haud yer wheesht!
MeH: (tentative hesitant self) 爸爸常说 忍一时风平浪静，退一步海阔天空. 怎么办?Should I try to negotiate in this potential zone of change? But these folks are resistant to any new ideas …
MeI: Ils refusent de comprendre! Les abandonner déjà!
Inner Voice15: And so from that moment it continued, with A caged and continuing to splutter in the sea, in a mind, I stood up, breathed deeply, and turned to leave those four walls and walk into the rest of my life. I moved out of the room, slammed the door behind and me and the company sign fell to the floor with a crash. I picked it up and read “Peachson Advanced Testing Systems” and tossed the sign into the trash can. I had better things to do with my life, anyway.
Me22: I did get that job, and I get it again and again every day. It’s only when I forget the contract I made with myself that day – the subjectives, and get mixed up with too many objectives – that I sometimes see Arborescence rear its head (still in the cage though – haha!). Fortunately I have some pretty good friends and co-learners who remind me that the book hasn’t been written yet; we just keep writing.
After writing Mr X loses his battle for objectivity I was overwhelmed by the response from the #Rhizo15 community through comments on the blog, in the Facebook group, on Twitter and Google+ group.
I have to admit I felt elated with so much attention but what really excited me was when Terry suggested it would work as a radio play/podcast.
Hello there. My name is Tania Sheko. Thanks for responding so positively to this short piece of fiction/non-fiction. I’m taking up the suggestion to create something for #rhizoradio (suggested by Terry Elliott and seconded by Simon Ensor) and other suggestions to do a collaborative rewrite eg include a larger cast so we can actually (somehow) create a podcast for #rhizoradio (which is going to be a thing I think). Hope you can join me here!
With Maha‘s well earned influence the Google doc I shared was suddenly populated with #Rhizo15 people (and others?) working together across time zones to hack my ‘story’. So many creative people chatting in the margins of the document about what could work.
It was fun watching the little animal-head avatars popping up at the top as people joined in. Kevin Hodgson shared some an introduction on SoundCloud and then Simon Ensor did a brilliant reading of Mr X – who evolved into Mr Arborescent (or just Arborescent, as Laura Ritchie suggested). The ‘me’ character was named Rhizoka and the narrator became an inner voice (voices in the head). The ‘me’ character then exposed a muliplicity of identities and even spoke in more than one language.
I don’t think it’s finished but I sure hope it actually gets acted out as a podcast/radio play. Thank you so much to all who jumped in – it’s been amazing! It’s still open so come in and contribute. I saw Maha talking on Twitter about who might be able to create the podcast so I hope someone will because I’m not sure about how to do that.
Thank you, people! So far Maha Bali, Sarah Honeychurch, Angela Brown, Ronald Rudolf, Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax), Laura Ritchie, Aras Bozkurt, Keith Hamon, Simon Ensor and Barry Dyck. Hope I haven’t left anyone out. Let me know if I have.
The library is the playground for study before exams. Classes have been cancelled and the signs of playground are all over the library – noise, noisy groups, grouped learners, learning clusters, clustered distractions, distracted discussions, discursive learners…
Many students have chosen not to stay home because they predict being distracted. (They know themselves. They have acted.) Wouldn’t the noisy playground be a distraction in itself? How do you remained focused in such an environment? (They are alert. They are engaged. It is social. They interact. There is laughter.)
We sometimes talk about study habits to students. Of course, there are students who need help, lots of help, learning how to study. We talk about study habits. Do we study? How long ago have we studied? Do we watch our students studying? I see study habits in action now. The library space has become a learning space with energy – not from us, but from our students. They have taken over. It’s how it should be.
Do you have an exam today?
No, I just came in to help a friend. Now I’m going to get onto my own study.
The technology is being used. Apple TVs, screens are being used for small group presentations. (Nobody told them how to do it.) Whiteboards are being filled with mathematics and diagrams. One student standing and teaching (yes, teaching) and others sitting attentively, listening, putting up their hands to ask a question (Yes, really). Have we modeled this?
We step back. We observe. They are learners and teachers. It’s uplifting.
Before I bought my iPad, people would ask me what I planned to do with it. Why was I spending so much money? Was I certain it was worth it? How was the iPad going to be different from a notebook? Should I buy an iPhone instead?
I couldn’t answer any of these questions with any certainty. That’s why I was buying an iPad – to play, to gain an understanding of what an iPad enabled me to do, to figure out if iPads played a role in the changing face of learning in schools.
There’s nothing wrong with putting forward a suggestion before you have all the answers. I didn’t and don’t have all the answers for iPads in education, but I don’t want to wait until the time when it’s safe, when the majority of educators have understood the value of iPads and accepted their place in schools. If I wait that long, I’ll be on the tail end of a movement that doesn’t stay still. I won’t be a forward thinking educator but a safe follower who calls out for others to wait up.
If I waited until I was sure, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Where am I now? I’m on the road to finding out. The iPad apps session I recently did with staff at school was a way in – despite the best advice to hold off because I only had one iPad to pass around, to hold off because iPad education wasn’t a realistic option at my school, because people weren’t ready, because because…
Play is an essential part of being a teacher – it’s the learning part of teaching. Play is experimenting, discovery, it’s creative, it’s action, it moves into a new space. Wouldn’t it be great if play was compulsory at school? Instead of instruction from teachers to students, play would put everyone on the same playing field. Risk would be a prerequisite.
If we wait until it’s safe to do something, we’ve been left behind.
Higher order thinking is not what the students were consciously involved in while playing with iPad app games, but it’s what they were in fact doing. I gave my iPad to some of the boys at school one day and suddenly there was a small crowd standing around the player, intently involved and offering suggestions. I asked to film a small group of these boys demonstrating a few of the games. They were self conscious and so the natural banter and collaboration is lost but the demonstrations still stand. You can almost see the thinking process in action.
As I’ve already mentioned before, I’m in the process of investigating iPad apps for learning enhancement in the classroom. A few weeks ago a colleague and brilliant music educator, Stuart Collidge, joined me in a meeting with our Deputy Principal (Curriculum) and a few other leaders in the school, to put forward a case for the use of iPads in the school, specifically for learning enhancement. I asked Stuart to write up how he sees the use of the iPad in the music classroom.
Recently, Tania asked me to speak with some of the decision-making powers that be at school to pitch the use of iPads as learning tools. This was something that Tania and I had reflected on a little and saw some potential in so I was more than happy to make the pitch. After borrowing Tania’s iPad to have a play on (I am not yet one of the iPad collective L), I worked my way through a few possible applications and uses. It was also very useful to troll through Google and look at the ways that other music educators are using these beasts.
Being a laptop school, it was important to differentiate the potential of these units from the laptops that are already in the hands of the students. For a school with no laptop program, I imagine that a class set of these would be AWESOME for a whole raft of areas of study, but being outside my brief, I didn’t focus too much on it.
My impression initially (and once we are up and running with a program, I’ll report on the accuracy of those impressions) was that this device would be awesome for me on two levels: as a music/education professional, and as a performer. I can also see how students could use these devices in the same way.
As a performer, the iPad is now a very comprehensive musical instrument. In fact, several instruments all in one. There seem to be two different approaches to performance apps. The first way is to use the device as a synthesiser. There are several things that already do that, but the advantage of the iPad is in the interface which can encourage different approaches to composing and performing. If you sit down at a conventional keyboard, the notes are laid out in a particular way and we are trained to approach the keyboard in that particular way (unless you are into avant garde composition). A lot of music is constructed around melodies and chords that “fit under the fingers”. Take a look at a synth like Musix. The layout of the octaves and notes allows us a melodic freedom and an opportunity to audition sounds that are harder to achieve on a conventional piano. I imagine that you can find many other synths that encourage alternative approaches to melody making.
There is also a variety of apps that are much like a hardware synth allowing you access to oscillators, LFOs, filters, etc. You can also use the iPad to drive Digital Audio Workstations for tracks or DJing live. Ableton seems to be the best suited to creating and manipulating arrangements in a live situation. And for patching your iPad into your amp/PA/recording rig, try this: https://www.alesis.com/iodock.
All of this means that with a few apps and some time, students can generate performance material in a variety of different ways to suit a particular idea or project and allows for a greater degree of creativity and freedom.
As a music professional, I am most interested in using the iPad as music stand. I have spoken with people that do this and received mixed reviews, but I feel that this is where music reading should be going. An iPad could contain an entire library of sheet music in PDF format (solo music, ensemble parts, method books, scores, backing tracks) and would be fantastic to use in performance or rehearsal. No longer need to worry about losing original parts, remembering pencils (the software stores any annotations made), or sorting through libraries of stuff (although the logistics of scanning everything might be headache enough, until publishers are in selling more of their material in that format). Imagine being able to transpose a score instantly into a new key (to my way of thinking, the only way for us to be rid of the archaic institution of transposing instruments).
Of course, it already has a variety of apps that are useful (and which I use on my iPhone) like chromatic tuners, tone generators, metronomes, DMX dipswitch calculators, remote control for lighting desks, decibel meter, power load calculators, chord finders, etc.
All this in a device the size of a small text book!
I am very much looking forward to putting my hands on a unit that I can stock it up with goodies!
Last night I travelled to another planet. Sitting in a long, narrow room bursting at the seams with puzzle and palindrome addicts, I wondered where these people had been hiding? Out of body experience? No, just another Wheeler Centre offering. I had come to the session David Astle: Confessions of a Wordaholic.
Father holds six over least arrangement. (5, 5) A gibberish sentence for many of us, but an irresistible clue for those in the thrall of cryptic crosswords. And in the Australian scene, there are none more cryptic, more revered and more dastardly than the man known as DA.
To celebrate the launch of his new book Puzzled, meet David Astle and find out why Geoffrey Rush calls him the ‘Sergeant Pepper of cryptic crosswords’.
It’s scary inside David Astle’s brain. It’s stuffed full of words endlessly doing things. Palindromes and semordnilap run back and forth, spoonerisms climb up and own, thickets of anagrams form and reform and the tendrils of double meanings reach out to trip the unwary.
Even Astle occasionally wants to get out. “If anyone finds the exit, could you let me know? I’d like a rest sometimes.”
Despite the fact that I am not a puzzle person, that even when shown the answer , I remain puzzled, it was an immensely enjoyable and mentally exhilarating hour. I had expected David to be – dare I say it – more of a geek, considering the intensity of his word obsession, but in fact, he is very sociable and entertaining, with a sharpened intellect and almost incapable of leaving a word alone, set on automatic pilot to continuously pull words apart, stretch them into new meanings and possibilities. In David’s own words, his gift for word play is ‘like synesthesia, only instead of seeing colours, I just see acrobatic letters’.
David’s new book, Puzzled, is surprisingly thick. Apart from chapters of clues, Puzzled is also a insight into David’s life and ‘how a seemingly normal boy from Sydney’s northern suburbs turned into a man whom people curse on a regular basis’ (Harriet Veitch).
In researching for this post, I discovered David Astle’s website and blog – both which have been added to my RSS now for titilating reading.
Thankyou, Wheeler Centre, for providing the opportunity to meet in person so many diverse and fascinating people. For free!