Why We Blog

Yes! With some help from the marketing department of the best college in Ireland (click here to find out). I can proudly report that Leo’s Learning Blog has been nominated for the Irish Blog Awards in the category of Best Specialist Blog. Well, surely this is something to blog about! Yes! but before I get too carried away I note that there are many excellent blogs in this category including Eugene’s Blog, Deryk Thormy’s Blog and Jimmy Hill’s Blog. So what’s going on with blogging?  What are we all doing and more importantly why do people blog? As you might expect I have a learning theory that might explain, in part, what may be happening.   I refer you the work of John Dewey (1859 – 1952) the American educationalist and philosopher and the further insights of Professor Chip Bruce a “master blogger” of many years, a great scholar and a friend of mine.Chip and others have developed the notion of an Inquiry Cycle model of learning based on 4 basic human impulses identified by John Dewey (for a fuller treatment I recommend you read Chips Bruce’s work here). The basic idea is that we all have a tendency to learn through a cyclical Read More …

Lord Mayor’s Commission on Employment

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Emer Costello, is to be commended for establishing a Commission on Employment for Dublin. This is an inspired and necessary goal for the City Council and tackling unemployment or, to put it more positively, creating employment is essential for the future well-being of all who live and work in our city. The Lord Mayor’s Commission has set up working groups on a number of key areas: (1) Unemployment & Employment, (2) Business, Entrepreneurship & Finance, (3) Education, Skills and Training, and (4) Volunteering & the Social Economy.  The commission have invited submissions and I have copied below my own contribution on the area of Education, Skills and Training.  Dublin City of LearningLet’s stop and think and about learning.  No I don’t mean schooling, or formal training or the pursuit of new qualifications.  I want us to think about learning – what it means for each each of us and how it gives purpose to our lives.We learn throughout our lives and each time we face new challenges, we take on new information, adapt our thinking and develop new skills.  We learn how to build our identity as we emerge from teenage years, we learn Read More …

Weekend in Rota d’Imagna

Maire and I and our Caoimhe (19) and Jim (16) decided to spend a short weekend away in Italy – we had spotted cheap flights to Bergamo on Ryanair and used Tripadvisor to scour the area nearby for cheap but good hotels. We came accross Hotel Miramonti which is about 40 minutes from Bergamo up in the mountains.The town was called Rota d’Imagna and it is very pleasently located high up in the alpine foothills. We also spent a day in Bergamo itself – this is a wonderful town especially the old city. This was a great weekend – really enjoyable with just the four of us.  Maire and I were especially keen to practice our Italian.  But we had little opportunity as most people were so nice and of course, wanted to speak English to us. Jim was keen to practice his photography skills and indeed he took some very beautiful pictures. It’s great just to go somewhere quiet.  Rota d’Imagna was a quiet town.Pictures are from the town of Bergamo. posted by Leo Casey

Our Digital World invades the Bicycle!

The Dublin bike scheme is a welcome addition to our city.  It will be great for toursists and locals alike.  Dublin is a relatively flat city and if you can brave the wind and the rain then cycling is a great way to get about. I had seen the new stands being constructed and looked forward to the inauguration of this new service for many months now.  How practical!  How green! How good of our city and government to, at last, offer something for ordinary people to use and to enjoy. So you can imagine my enthusium to read the practical details as they were published in the newspapers this weekend.  Then I saw something that made me slightly uneasy: Users, who must register online at www.dublinbikes.ie, pay a €10 annual membership fee and leave a €150 security deposit through a credit card or bank draft. Mmm…  I’ve been around long enough to realise that you can’t just leave bikes lying around and expect people to use and return with honour.  No – the need for a deposit did not bother me – nor the €10 annual membership.  Even the charges per hour are reasonable and it is understandable that Read More …

Learning Identity and Learning Italian

In previous posts I spoke about learning identity. I emphasised that we all carry many (often unquestioned) assumptions about who we are and who we can be as learners.  The notion of learning identity is proposed as a component of one’s overall self-identity.  I argued that learning identity is often framed in one’s school years and can remain fixed through life especially for non-participants in further formal learning. In my own research on participation in the digital world I came accross learning identity as an important influence on people’s decisions to enroll on basic computer courses.  The recurrent theme is captured in the phrase “I was no good in school”. Well, I decided to turn the spotlight inwards and direct my scrutiny at my own learning identity.  I have always believed that I am no good at language learning.  My French is dreadful despite struggeling through six years of it in school.  I can speak a bit of German because I lived in Munich for a time after college but here’s the thing about German – outside of Germany no one wants to speak it! So I’m going to learn Italian. posted by Leo Casey

NAMA – having a haircut or taking a bath!

This week experienced a turning point in the public consciousness regarding NAMA the National Asset Management Agency.People are asking questions – really fundamental questions – about the wisdom of the government’s strategy of using NAMA to buy up the bad loans from the banks. If ever we need a very public debate about what we should do – this is the time and this is the issue. The amount of money involved is staggering – decisions made in the next few months will have implications for generations to come. It is not good enough to say that we can’t understand what’s going on, each of us has a responsibility to get to grips with the nature of the problem and the proposed solution. What’s noticeable is the way language is used to filter our thinking. ToxicWe describe the loans as “toxic” thereby conveying an almost medical imagery – that of surgically removing the bad stuff so that we can cure the situation. HaircutThis is the very gentle description for the reduction in the value of the loan book that should be considered. So one hears we’ll take those 90 billion worth of loans and give them a haircut of say Read More …

Slea Head

We decided to spend some days in Dingle, County Kerry.Why Dingle?Well this is a place that I’ve always had a fondness for and it has been many years since I visited. I made a documentary in the mid-1980s called Up Sraid Eoin (John Street) – it was the story of the Dingle wren boys. We filmed it one St Stephens Day and it was broadcast on RTE the following year. I had been introduced to Dingle while I was working in UCD’s Audio Visual Centre – we spent a whole summer recording stories and music for the Department of Irish Folklore/Irish Folklore Commission. The irony was that we were using television to capture the last remnants of an oral storytelling tradition that was dying out because of the pervasiveness of television. I learned so much through these projects and although I was responsible for sound and video I really did not have enough Irish to understand what was being said. Strange that the way it worked out I was happy to be there and to listen to the rhythm of the telling and observe the engagement of the listeners as they fell under the spell of a great story-teller. We Read More …

PhD Viva Voce

For the last three and a half years I have been working on my PhD. This week – last Thursday to be specific – I completed my Viva Voce and the successful outcome was essentially the last step in the process. Phew!My thesis is called Pathways to Competence and Participation in the Digital World – it is a study of the learning journey of adults who take up computer skills for the first time.It’s a nice feeling to complete research especially when the topic has always been of interest to me. It is great to have had the opportunity to learn in this way.No doubt there is more to be done and I am planning some publications and perhaps a few blogs in the future will feature ideas from my research.For now I am reflecting on why I decided to do a PhD in the first place and how I feel about that now. I genuinely wanted to know more about the field of education – although I have extensive experience in terms of business and media especially television production – scholarly research is another way of looking at the world.I have always been intrigued by learning – why and Read More …

The Road – by Cormac Mc Carthy

I am a slow reader by choice.I like to take my time with a book especially when it is well crafted and beautiful.McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ took some time – although it is not a big read and the comments on the cover suggested that it may (and should) be read in one session – I did the opposite and read two or three pages each night over the last few weeks.Why does this book resonate?At one level it could be described as bleak, lacking in plot and gruesome.But there is something captured here that is difficult to describe and yet powerfully familiar.It may be that this novel somehow connects with our collective unconscious and reveals a stark truth about existence.Can’t really work it out … no need just let it be. posted by Leo Casey

Ian Paisley Comes to NCI

Dr Ian Paisley arrived at National College of Ireland as part of the Legends in Your Lunchtime series. The idea is a series radio interviews with famous people recorded in front of an audience at the college. Newstalk and Metro partner with NCI for these events. Paisley can still attract a crowd. I have to say I have very mixed feelings about Paisley. Like many people who lived in the Republic throughout the troubles I regarded Paisley as the epitome of unionist intransigence. No one can say for certain but fixed and extreme views on both sides meant that a resolution came about only after many, many more years than necessary. Paisley must shoulder his share of responsibility for this. Still, as I sat near the front of the lecture theatre, I could not help but be taken in by the warm, affable manner of the 82 year old Paisley. George Hook as the interviewer is old enough to remember how in the bad old days Paisley used to storm out of TV studios if he did not like the question or the tone of the interviewer. George sat stern faced in the lead up and I wondered if he’d Read More …