By Simon Ensor, Clermont Ferrand France
Why should writing to order having anything to do with feelings?
We shall see.
What image shall I use to illustrate how I feel here?
How will that image change how I feel?
We shall see.
That was a surprise. (so now I am surprised)
Was it a surprise for you? Probably not.
Why on earth did I choose that one? I don’t know. It appears right here.
I have no idea why.
No matter. (he reflects)
You probably don’t care. I am sorry.
This is a window through which I was just looking.
It is a factually a window in my home.
This is now fiction.
Having taken this photo a while back, one evening, artfully played with the filters on Instagram and shared it with you here, I realise that this is no longer my home.
It is an alien space.
I make a mental note of this. I go back to writing this article to order.
Writing to order.
Strange as it may seem, this place is unfamiliar for me.
Away from a reassuring context, the blogger text editor, the carefully built up atmosphere of my ‘Touches of Sense’ blog, I feel weirdly lost, dispossessed.
I am away from home.
Where or what is home?
This is certainly not your home. (he reflects)
[Maybe you are reading this on a device on which you feel at home? OMG maybe you are really at home. That is a thought.]
How on earth can moving from one text editor to another change anything?
It is not that this environment is not known to me.
I am writing this in a Google document an application which I use unthinkingly every day.
I write articles for journals, articles for magazines, I think nothing of it.
That is not the case for my colleague’s students.
They were not at home in Google.
They feared Google even when they were writing as anonymous squirrels and rabbits.
Maybe they would have felt better as a different animal or with their own avatar?
I thought nothing of it until now.
I mean I thought nothing of writing a blog post in Google documents before now.
It is not that this phenomenon is not known to me.
I have done research into the relationship between people and their tools, their digital spaces.
These relationships are so personal, so different.
A pen is not just a pen, a tweet is not just a tweet.
Our objects, our windows, our clothes embody momentary meaning for us…intimate secrets.
You couldn’t guess this by reading these lines….
I shall help you out.
I am writing this sitting in a chair which we bought just recently.
You wouldn’t know what it looks like. This is not just any old chair.
You wouldn’t know that a photo of my chair wouldn’t tell the truth about my chair.
I am sitting in a chair (note I say in not on) which recalls chairs that my parents used to have.
That is important for me.
That is irrelevant for you.
I am sorry, but if we were going to work together, you would need to know that my chair is not just a chair for me.
That somehow unexpectedly recalls Magritte.
This is not a pipe.
I know that is obvious…Sorry.
If you asked me to write a blog post for you, you would need to know that writing away from home is a new challenge for me.
Bolt of lightning strikes
How often do we reflect as teachers on the attachment of learners to a chair, to a pen, to a pipe, to a way of sitting, to a way of being?
How sensitive to learners’ alienation are we when we ask them to write to order, in a place that has not been chosen by them as home?
How would you feel if a complete stranger sat down and started moving your furniture around in your home?
How would you feel if you were asked to accept tracking of every movement that you made in your home?
I am writing this blog post in a Google document for you.
OMG, I just clicked on something. It’s all in code, XML thingy. What on earth is that? Where did it go? I didn’t write that gibberish. (He panics)
Ooph, that’s better.
I am writing this blog post to order… to order how I feel.
I don’t know how I will feel if I know how you feel when you read it.
Sorry that is difficult to write simply.
I have no idea how you feel now.
About the Author: Simon Ensor is an English teacher and researcher at the Université Blaise Pascal in France. He is currently working with other learner-educators in the CLAVIER (Connected Learning and Virtual Intercultural Exchange Research) network to investigate how distant connections can transform local learning stories and spaces. He has decided recently that he quite likes blogging.