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Sitting on my deck on a sunny day as summer begins to fade into fall, I can see a single thread of a web spanning the large opening of the deck stairs from rail post to rail post. I had sat down to write a blog post about National Online Learning Day but instead found myself contemplating the amount of ambition a spider must have to decide to build a 10-foot-wide web. Just as I was about to get back to work, I noticed that this feat was being undertaken by a minuscule spider who was now working on another thread halfway across this immense expanse. I watched for a while, torn between being impressed that such a tiny arachnid could accomplish this amazing feat and feeling sad for this little guy because somebody was clearly going to walk through this web before the end of the day.
“What’s Juneteenth?” asked my granddaughter on our trip to Washington D.C., as I mentioned having a holiday off from work. This was but one of many questions generated by my nine and ten-year-old granddaughters on our first grandparent-grandchild road trip sans parents. I felt sure I knew the answer to each question regarding the sights and history we were introducing to them. Still, upon offering explanations, again and again, I found myself questioning my conceptual grasp of history.
March 8th, is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. A day to promote gender parity. However, given the context of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps also a day to reflect on the terrible consequences of war which often disproportionately impacts women and children.
September 15th is National Online Learning Day. Recognition of online learning is especially relevant this year after the pandemic and resulting school closures exposed many more people to online learning. If the pandemic had happened 20, or even 10 years ago, the quick pivot to online learning would not have been possible. Existing technology, resources, and online pedagogy have advanced to the point that it was possible to provide education to most students and to keep them from missing a year of schooling.
Working together to create knowledge is a fundamental Higher Ed goal. Ever since Socrates peppered people with questions instead of just wowing them with his wisdom, we’ve been aware of the importance of being actively engaged in our own learning.
June 15th is designated as nature photography day by the North American Nature Photography Association “to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and to explain how images are used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally.”
Sometimes you are challenged to think about who you are and who you aspire to be. This particular challenge came to me from our office marketing director in hopes that I would #ChooseToChallenge by writing a blog entry about my experiences in higher education and share my thoughts and experiences with women who want to move into leadership in higher education.
In the movie, 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock introduces us to a vaudeville performer, Mr. Memory, who has the plans of an advanced airplane engine committed to memory. Clearly, the plans are something of great concern and central to the plot. Upon reflection, however, although the plans seemed very important and provided an impetus forward from one scene to another, at the conclusion, we don’t know, or really care, what the plans were or how they were used. The secret plans were just there to propel us forward. Hitchcock often used a plot device referred to as a MacGuffin as a secret motivator in his movies.
I used to participate in Adventure Races. The races varied, but included activities such as kayaking, repelling, cycling and orienteering. I participated in these with good friends and now when we have too much wine, we enjoy retelling stories of these races as if we had been serious athletes pushing the boundaries of physical prowess. I’ll just assume you understand how far this is from the truth.