Saturday, July 25, 2020

Taking a Plunge....

Levalet - Le Plongeur - First 'message'...
I keep coming across images, captions and quotations with the same basic message; Set your sights and then take the plunge! This has not fallen on deaf ears or averted eyes, but it invariably appears easier to be pushed than to jump, even if that means giving up all sense of control and security, precisely what led to hesitation in the very first place! Crippling are the doubts and fears, based on potential risk in situations where stakes are high. Invariably, it seems wiser to just play safe rather than to take a gamble, especially given the current climate. But is it?

Second... Taking risks.
However, surely the Covid crisis has underlined, if nothing else, the brevity and value of Life? Why toll away at an increasingly thankless professional activity that is becoming progressively less palatable as the months go by? Why shackle yourself with a grinding routine, or follow a lifestyle bound up by restrictions and non-choices? On the other hand, there is an obvious need to be grateful for every little thing in our lives, and for Life itself, above all now. We are living through times when instead of judging the situation through either a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty perspective, we should be glad to simply have a glass at all. But if we have a life, surely it is our duty to live it as fully and positively as possible? To do so, it is necessary to leave the safety of a comfort zone - or at least one of familarity - that is surely stultifying and stifling us, wholly or partially. After all, familiarity is said to breed contempt. But how do you navigate a path through huge stretches of the unknown? Where do you start, and how?

Third...How do you find your way?
My professional survival was solely down to the scrambled adoption and shaky use of the devices, platforms and apps that became so commonplace during lockdown that their very names now function as verbs and adjectives in everyday speech. I have been aware and grateful for that but I relish the widespread rolling-out of these into every crevice of life far less. Most of us have been too busy tackling the challenges of the first half of 2020 to take measure of this new 'connected' state of affairs, this other 'New Normal' that is here to stay. We were literally plunged into this new screened/screen existence as we dutifully shut ourselves away over those long months and have now emerged to a world where life and work will be traced, reflected and run along lines compatible with our internet connection.

Fourth...What happens if you don't try.
I do not follow the 5G conspiracy theories, but my heart sank earlier this week on learning of the further grip that this fifth generation of mobile communication services will have on young people... Physical school manuals are no longer required in the teaching profession in this part of the country, following 'greatly encouraging' results of a pilot test carried out here on the exclusive use of computers in class and home for schooling. Certainly, there will be numerous advantages to be had, for pupils and teaching staff alike, but I personally do not feel the glow of enthusiasm at the prospect of the academic years to come. Having a gadget that has largely become a portable, artificial brain means less need to cram and learn facts in an actual biological one. What effect does that have on our mental and intellectual capacities, imagination and curiosity? I too would dismiss such questioning as mere Neo-Luddite ramblings and fear-mongering, but having seen enough first-hand, I do worry about this along with the odd situation wherein all words, ideas and beliefs must be weighed for fear of offending. If uncensored, 'unsafe' discussion and debate are effectively discouraged or disciplined, what is left? Real-time, face-to-face socialising has already taken second-place to incessant screen chatterings on social media, so what chance has the average teacher got to engage a classroom (present or digital) of youngsters, each equipped with a screen provided by the local education authority?

Time to jump?
So, all in all, Covid 19 might give me the shove that I need to move on to something else. I'll see how the land lies over the next academic year and then maybe take the plunge in a different direction...
However, knowing me I will probably get distracted by some detail, meander off in some other aimless direction/directionless aim and end up treading water. Still, that is preferably to drowning, I suppose.

Lost in detail...

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