“All changed, changed utterly.” W.B Yeates
When lockdown first began, the nation fell silent. The roads deserted, the occasional passing car became an intrusion into the silence of nature (which as we learnt is not silent at all). Our ears soon forgot the monotonous drone of traffic and learned to hear the bird song. Perhaps the birds were not singing before, perhaps on the day we stayed in, locked down in fearful quarantine, they looked up from their perches, noticed the change and began to sing. Perhaps its was like Nabokov’s Cincinatus, who noticed… “Suddenly the band stopped - or rather, now that it stopped, one realised that it had been playing all this time.” We realised that our gardens and streets and fields were “bee loud glades” (W.B. Yeates). We looked up to see “the loud evening cries of the swallows as they snipped the coloured air with their black scissors.” (Nabokov)
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
W.B. Yeates “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
This necessary pause to the way things were (“There we were, now here we are” Noel Gallagher) has given many of us space to think. Or perhaps it is rather that we have been forced to re-imagine? Whichever it is, the current crisis has afforded many areas of society an opportunity to radically overhaul systems and policies and even ideologies.
In education we have moved from reductive exams (a small number of hours sitting a written test to sum up the progress and learning of five years in education) to centre based assessments, from classrooms to bedrooms, from white boards and screens to online platforms and digital delivery, from exercise books to Seesaw portfolios. Surely this is chance we must take to grasp the very best of what we now know and let it shape the future of education.
But this will require change in ideology. We currently have the chance to think about our ideologies, to reshape them. The Conversation aims to be a small cog in the gears of an ideology change facilitation engine.
In his book “The Illuminati Papers”, Richard Wilson describes the practice of Guerrilla Ontology. “The goal of guerrilla ontology is to expose an individual or individuals to radically unique ideas, thoughts, and words, in order to invoke cognitive dissonance, which can cause a degree of discomfort in some individuals as they find their belief systems challenged by new concepts. The ultimate goal of guerrilla ontology is to promote positive brain change and new ways of experiencing and adapting to reality.”
The Conversation project at large has been one of Guerrilla Ontology and it is my hope it remains so.