What ‘lubricates’ your teaching?
With less than 2 weeks to go until the inaugural Academic Afternoon Tea, I thought I would share the preparatory (but also completely optional) task I set the people who have signed up, maybe one of you out there who won’t be able to join us would like to join in with this?
(One of the principles of Experience Design as taught by the College of Extraordinary Experiences is Co-Creation, the idea that ‘the group’ contributes to a shared knowledge base and design. This is, of course, also something that has become more and more important in Learning and Teaching, the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, for example, as well as inviting the Student Voice into the classroom by making students co-creators.)
As we are meeting for afternoon tea, I have asked participants to think about what aspects ‘lubricate’ our teaching and learning?
In the best regenring tradition, let us try and explain and share these concepts as ‘tasting notes’ of tea blends – the brief descriptions of what a tea tastes like, what its properties are and even how to prepare it.
This probably makes more sense when looking at some examples, so here are two that I came up with:
An often unexpected taste, this is best served in small portions (especially at the beginning, after which it might develop into an acquired taste by the drinkers and could therefore be used more frequently and in larger doses). Very useful to introduce a sense of wonder and playfulness into sessions, it can open up the imagination and the exploring of opportunities.
A strong blend that is related in taste profile to Whimsicalitea, but much more intense. As this is almost hallucination inducing it is imperative to use this in only small doses. However, it is sometimes needed to get people’s thinking off the beaten track.
As you can see, the link to ‘tea’ works quite well if you get hold of a term that in conventional spelling ends in -ty, but you could equally make up a more fancy name for your tea blends, maybe inspired by blends that are out there. Really, I think the most important thing is to reflect on some aspects of teaching and learning that make it special – and have a bit of fun with this.
Here are some that were suggested by participants:
A fresh taste of cheerfulness that tempts the taste buds and lifts the spirits. (Kath Houston)
An essential, everyday brew that shows willingness to work inclusively and to recognise worth in all students. Best served with an open mind, a kind eye, and a pinch of salt! (Christy Anna Evans)
A lively brew, made with an attitude that combines passion for your subject, love of your work and a joyous approach to life! (Christy Anna Evans)
Our blending muses know that whilst mood and motivation change throughout the day, a bold wake up cuppa can put the first bounce into the creative leaps and bounds we make later in the day. Whatever blend of creativitea you choose, the taste can be adjusted to creative state with the addition of milk and/or sugar. In need of a creative hit first thing, then go easy on the milk but sprinkle that sugar liberally. Feel your creative juices flow as you drink a cup of liquid toast and honey. Feel sweet enough already? Then forgo the sugar and milk and enjoy an unadulterated cup of warming inspiration. Creativitea: the best start to your day. (Sandie Donnelly)
For those moments when it just isn’t happening for you, turn to pragmatisane. Step away from the computer, let the battle go, and fill your cup with zesty lemon, sharp enough to zap any lethargy, blended with warming spicy ginger to comfort and ease any emerging anxiety. Find a chair with a view, put your feet up and sip on pragmatisane. As the ginger relaxes you, the sharp lemon cuts a path through any blockages. You’ll be rested and refreshed in no time. Pragmatisane, because paralysing creative blocks aren’t worth it … (Sandie Donnelly)
My aim is to collect a whole menu full of teaching inspired ‘teas’ and to share this at the Academic Afternoon Tea (and also here on the blog).
If this sounds like fun, please add your own as a comment!
I love this idea! Can I add ‘Uncertaintea’ to your menu? This is an activitea which comes with very vague instructions for brewing. Tasters need to deal with a situation in which they need to make it up as they go along, countering the tendency for everything to be known in advance. Closely allied with Ambiguitea.
Of course! Both Uncertaintea and Ambiguitea definitely need to be on the menu! Thank you so much for suggesting them.
Can I rather belatedly add ‘Reflectivitea’? A blend best brewed slowly and sipped quietly: gazing at tea leaves and daydreaming are ideal accompaniments to this slow-burning beverage.