Aporia……lost in transition

It was my twitter mentor, @alisoniredale. Unknowingly, she was the catalyst that caused my growing sense of confusion, panic and considerable disorientation. Just imagine, there I was playing with and enjoying twitter, feeling a little more comfortable in my solitary play mode, see January blog. When, suddenly and unexpectedly I realise that I’m engaging in a conversation. Questions were posed, but who to? I immediately felt unsure, a little confused. My twitter response was a non-response as I needed some time and space to consider how I’d got here and where was here. I hadn’t expected to feel like this, I felt a bit stupid, after all, my days are full of dialogic spaces and events. I needed time, to step back and consider why and how I was suddenly ‘stuck.’

I listened to a reading of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets and a short phrase from ‘Little Gidding’ stuck to me like Velcro.
“What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.”

I realised that I was in what Savin-Baden calls a ‘troublesome space.’ I had many questions:
• what was I thinking?
• I don’t understand how I got here
• what do I do next?
• where do I go from here?

An image of the London Underground map flashed before me as I wished for a map, with lines I could follow, just like Harry Beck’s iconic design. It had all happened so quickly. Was this what Parten meant when she described the transition from a socially, immature solitary onlooker to a socially mature associative and co-operative type of play? I read intently. I moved between Bridges’ account of transitions, Savin-Baden’s disjunctions, Burbules’ aporial labrynth metaphor and Kofman’s chaotic sea. Initially, I was looking for a map, a guide to a way out and, as none of these texts gave me a map, my disorientation deepened. Bridges rescued me at this point by reminding me that ‘ disorientation’ is a natural stage in endings, and it is about ‘gaining a sense of which way is up…and which way is forward..or back.’ I began to understand more of Burbules aporia, the sense of being lost, with no path to follow. And that paths or lines, in the underground map sense, take us from ‘a’ to ‘b’ and that as I don’t know where ‘b’ is, a map would serve only to define and place boundaries on my thinking.
I’ve learnt that transitional spaces are experiences that raise issues of identity and being (in a Heideggerian dasein sense). That as both Savin-Baden and Bridges identify,there’s always a possibility of remaining ‘stuck’ and even becoming disillusioned. I’ve also learnt that students experiencing aporia or stuckness are also looking for maps, and I need to develop ways of supporting them whilst not drawing them lines and boundaries.
I’m not sure that I still know which way is up, but I feel that I’m moving forward. As Daloz expresses so well ‘..when mentors do their work well, they help us see not only the tasks before us but also the broader context that gives those tasks meaning…’

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6 thoughts on “Aporia……lost in transition

  1. Reblogged this on stuffaliknows and commented:
    Some thoughts from my newest twitter friend Anne. I need to do some reading!!

    • Thank you for your comment Alison. I realised that the authors were all describing a process or stage of transition, and, were in agreement that it can be a very confusing and challenging place to be. I acknowledge that my own approach to teaching and learning may also leave some students a little unsettled, perhaps even being a catalyst to their own process of transition. I need to learn more about knowing when students are in transition and also knowing how to help!
      Perhaps this is part of the care Mark Johnson spoke about in his blogspot:
      http://dailyimprovisation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/higher-education-and-why-bolton-question.html?
      Oh! And thanks for the reblogging.
      ann

  2. Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce
    a very good article… but what can I say… I put things
    off a lot and never manage to get anything done.

  3. […] space is liberating, but it also raises the fear of getting lost. This chimes with the notion of Burbules’ aporia, the sense of being lost and not knowing which way is up. Palmer sums up beautifully how we support students in this charged space; finding them places to […]

  4. […] thoughts return to Nicholas Burbules’ aporia  and the sense of disorientation, ambiguity, discomfort even brought by the unfamiliar and the joy […]

  5. […] confusion is the very essence of the learning process. I’ve written before about troublesome learning spaces. I admit to being seriously confused by the buttons and menu systems on my DSLR camera. It’s […]

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