#blimage Challenge #1: The Chalkboard


This is the blimage  (blog image) challenge: Use an image above sent to you and “incorporate it into your blog, and write a post about learning based on it…See what you can make of it! (Then pass an image of your choice on to someone else so they can do their own #blimage challenge).” Read about the original idea here.

My first thoughts jump to John Locke and his epistemological notion of the blank slate. However, I don’t totally subscribe to that idea any longer due to my years of teaching, emerging understanding of genetics and two kids. Next thoughts surface my critical pedagogical side that wishes to discuss privilege and access to education; a worthy topic and one that continues to be documented.  Ryan’s Five Miles Away, A World Apart is a contemporary example that places my city in the cross-hairs. It is a perspective that reminds me of Fyodor Dostoevsky when he lamented  “those who philosophize, their bellies are full.” (roughly recalled).  Although both perspectives are significant and interesting, I’m going to take a different path. Today, I want to discuss the hand in motion, motivated to make thinking visible (I’ll call this my pragmatic idealistic side).

I have often reflected that there is a sense in which thought not applied is useless. If we want to measure something, to determine its worth, then we have to see how it acts, who it influences, how it’s built, what it looks like. I hold myself to this standard as a scholar, instructor, partner and parent. I also hold my students to this standard. I wish I counted how many times I’ve heard something like: “I haven’t written the paper yet, but it’s in my head.” That’s useful. Likewise, since I work with faculty to build new things (courses, pedagogy, conceptions, assignments, philosophies, websites, etc.), I want to actually see change. Specifically, I want to see development, innovation, growth, experimentation, and happiness.

To get there, we must act. It reminds me of this photo originally brought to my attention in a tweet from Gardner Campbell.


The slate and chalk are experimental mediums. We write and draw in a public space that is erased, reconfigured and shared. We often work with others to call upon the powers of collective intelligence to build and demonstrate understanding, to build new ideas, and to be intellectually playful. I have seen how young children gravitate toward the slate with chalk in hand merely to see what comes from within.

So, I have to ask, what’s my chalkboard? 

2 thoughts on “#blimage Challenge #1: The Chalkboard

  1. Nice response to the #blimage challenge!

    I liked your statement that the “slate and chalk are experimental mediums.” I would also suggest – to tweak one word – that they are experiential mediums. Not only thinking but life experiences emerge as chalk hits the chalkboard (or sidewalk).

    Will work on my challenge today!

    1. Excellent addition. It exposes one of my assumptions about education: that it should be, must be about creating learning experiences. I’m looking forward to your challenge.

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