As part of a couple of professional exchange days, I decided to use Steve Wheeler’s #twistedpair idea to invite my colleagues to write. When I say ‘I decided’, I mean I spent several weeks agonising over whether to do something safe or take a risk with the #twistedpair. See this post for the history. Finally I decided to take a risk and go with the writing session although I was convinced that nobody would choose my session over the other, more obviously traditional, professional development sessions.
I promised Steve that I’d report and here it is. I actually had 10 teachers come to my session (with 3 other choices). It was so much fun! With the changeover from the previous session, we actually only had 10 minutes to write after a shortish explanation with examples of #twistedpairs to get people going. We all shared; that was the best part.
Some people were happy for me to share their #twistedpairs (some in the early thinking stages due to time limit):
Professor Dumbledore and Frida Kahlo (group effort by 2 Art teachers) –
- They are both larger than life
- They both command an audience
- They both express themselves through their clothing
- Big picture philosophy
- They have an intimidating presence yet they draw people to them at the same time
- They are both story tellers
- They are both very open-minded
- They are both risk takers
Thanks Vanja and Mihaela!1
Joan (English and Performing Arts) wrote about how Ken Robinson and Doris Day inspire her:
Ken Robinson is someone who inspires me because he talks about creativity being central to education. His books The Element and Out Of Our Minds made me shout out loud as I read each new idea on the page. “Yes, I agree with that!’ or “Yes, that’s what I think/do in my classes!”
Doris Day also made me shout – I played Calamity Jane in year 12 and the musical was about a mix of love and feminism. As the character of Calam I got to explore ideas relating to feminism, I was in my ‘element’ as described by Ken Robinson, singing, acting, thinking and discovering things about myself and the world. The song that encapsulates all these things for me had the line about ‘my secret love, not being secret anymore’. “Now I shout it from the highest hill.”
We also heard about how Florence Nightingale and Nike worked as inspirational #twistedpairs for Jenny. We heard about Josh Thomas and Michael Long. Some #twistedpairs I’ve forgotten because I didn’t force people to hand over their writing.
Alex is happy to share what she wrote:
Here Emily Bronte converses with William Shakespeare.
EB: I want to ask you whether you travelled to all the places that you wrote about. Italy, Africa and India.
WS: No but I was a robber of tales tall and true from the sailors at the docks.
EB: I live in a parsonage in a tiny village. I can’t move beyond my own footprints nor can I escape the influence of my family.
WS: Well of course you are a woman, and remember ‘your name is frailty’, you aren’t to be trusted in the world beyond your father’s house and will always need to be protected from ‘ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ‘.
(Excuse me for quoting my own work, but then again, on one else has ever come close)
EB: Too true, by your reckoning and insistence. I have been gazing into the world of the human heart, having neither knowledge nor opportunity for experience I have had only human behavior as a model. What else might I have written if I had seen the world?
WS: Too many of your Victorian novels have remained in drawing rooms. Even men were too bound by their own watch chains to look outside. At least you did examine the human heart.
EB: And you were excited by the prospect of defeating Spain and conquering the world. The age of exploration was dawning.
WS: Yet you Victorians in your plump complacency had conquered, but still you didn’t understand. You believed that you were the pinnacle of human civilization and the apex of intellectual life. That no one else could write or rule as well as you could.
Themes: feminism, gendered discourse, colonialism
Motivation: Looking at the contrast in political, social and economic contexts from the epochs represented by these two writers. More of a disciplinary focus, stimulated by the change in VCE Study Design and the introduction of a comparative essay for Year 11 next year.
Thank you for taking a risk with my session. I think we had fun. I learned a lot from all of you. In particular that I am blessed to be amongst intelligent, creative and talented people. I wish the students would see this side of you more often.
If you’re interested in reading what other people have done with #twistedpair see this list.