What is active learning?

To start you off on this path for reflection: this is how learning sometimes feels to me and often in exactly the moment the tracks disappear there is breakthrough.

More to follow this is just to get back into writing. The little film is the introduction to a session for our active learning course, introducing the debate of learning and teaching, & educational landscapes.

On the quest for a virtual exhibition platform

I want to use virtual exhibition for my students to showcase the artifacts they develop throughout the semester. There are some OER platforms out there we could experiment with. However, GDPR and accessibility (and well design) demand the use of institution approved software. We (students and staff) all have the Office 365 suit and some serious free cloud storage so making use of the tools available to us seemed the most obvious way to go. This ensures everyone can access and the GDPR side is covered at an institutional level, we can also make the exhibition as public or as private as we agree on in the course.

So without further ado: this is my experiment to use Sway as a sort of exhibition, importing some of my visual art and poems.


German Proverbs 5: The Weekend Version

About Regrets

Disclaimer: You might not want to read this at work


Hätte der Hund nicht geschissen, hätt er den Hasen gefangen.


If the dog would not have pooped he would have caught the rabbit.


This always came up in situations of ‘would have beens’ and ‘could have beens’. Had I not done x then y would not have happened. Tough. It happened. Get over it. You can’t change it anyway. I always—particularly as a kid—thought this was a funny saying. The dog has no choice but letting the rabbit go. We have no choice but letting past decisions go. Some of them were stupid, some of them were mistakes and occasionally we will have known that they were mistakes but made them anyway—let that rabbit go. It’s on the other end of the field by now anyway there is no point in fretting.

German proverbs 4: Resilience


Da musst du durch als Lurch wenn du Frosch werden willst.


You have to stick it out as amphibian if you want to become a frog.
You have to stick it out as tadpole if you want to become a frog.


Situations that are uncomfortable but necessary:

  • I really don’t feel like going to school.
  • Harvesting berries is boring.
  • This exercise is too exhausting.
  • I don’t want to apologize this is so embarrassing, I really don’t want to face it.
  • My legs hurt cycling, my bike it too heavy.

Niece in her terrible two gets an almighty temper tantrum during holiday on the seaside because her feet got wet. Rewind ten minutes: wet feet were totally fun when splashing around the Baltic, but walking back to our accommodation was boring, so wet feet suddenly became cause for Glasgow Pain Scale 10 suffering. The response to this would be that she had to see this through as tadpole if she would like to be a frog. Mind you the response is sometimes: But I don’t want to be a frog!

For me this proverb was about resilience and becoming: it is not about becoming a frog, after all not everyone wants to be a frog, but about becoming who you want to be. It was about learning that discomfort is part of life and that without it goals won’t be reached. There would be no jam without the berries, no fun cycling to places, no learning to take responsibility for your actions, no degree without school. We are in a process of becoming all our life, and pain or discomfort are inevitably part of this process. It’s more fun though with quirky proverbs that make you laugh about yourself once in a while.

German Proverbs 3: Stay on Task


Mach die Augen auf und lass den Geist ein bissl leuchten.


Open your eyes and let your mind shine a wee bit.
Open your eyes and let your mind light the way.


‘Where is the Philips screw driver, granddad?’ Shouting as I am helping him with some sort of maintenance. This proverb would be the response. Being stuck with something, not understanding things right away, etc—just open your eyes. Aye right. Because that’s so easy. I remember that it annoyed me more often than not—this response. But I also remember that when I just stopped, and took a breath, and stopped panicking, I figured it* out in the end. So the first part of the proverb is about staying on task. Being in the moment. Paying attention. In that way this saying was all about halting, thinking, looking, figuring things out, and inevitably, and maybe even more importantly, the trust that if you try you actually will figure ‘it’ out. It communicated the unfaltering implicit belief in my ability to figure ‘it’ out.

In some strange way this proverb is a mix of ‘stop fretting’, ‘focus’, and ‘I believe in you’.

*Whatever, the ‘it’ of the moment was: learning to fix my bicycle, finding the darn screwdriver, using a saw, understanding how something fit together …

German Proverbs 2: Inevitability


Kräht der Hahn auf dem Mist ändert sich das Wetter oder es bleibt wie es ist.


  • If the cock crows on the dung heap the weather is going to change or not.


My granddad was a farmer so there was a lot of farming wisdom flying about. Some of which was altered for different purposes like this one here. It relates to inevitability and the pointlessness of fretting. There are events in life which you cannot influence, and no matter how much you try to determine the outcome of the event, you will not be able to change it. Like the weather. So stop trying to second guess and accept the weather whichever way it comes.

Of German Proverbs and Work Attitude

Some years back my eldest niece and I spend several hours collating pages and pages of proverbs, and wordsmith results we grew up with. I realised much later how much my family’s wordsmithery had impacted on pretty much every aspect of my life but most so on attitudes about work and self.

So I figured for a bit of summer fun honing translation skills and introducing some German and family-owned proverbs might be nice.


Wo gehobelt wird fallen Späne.


  • Planing causes wood chips.
  • Where there is woodwork there are shavings.


The meaning behind this proverb is about the nature of failure. My granddad used to say this when I made a mistake, or I broke something experimenting. It means that mistakes are part of the process. He also said that if you don’t make mistakes this means you never really applied yourself or tried something really hard. Because if you really try, if you really work hard, making mistakes is inevitable.




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