A Grand Occasion in Plymouth

Posted in: News and Updates

I was in Plymouth on Thursday night to be at Stephen Sterling's professorial inaugural lecture.  It was a fittingly splendid few hours.  Stephen was welcomed formally to his new role with an appropriately generous appreciation of his human and professional talents and this was before he'd even said a word.  There was even a brief cameo by way of pre-welcome — a witty but rather bemusing warm up act.

Stephen spoke at length as was appropriate, and we were all encouraged to tweet, blog, etc ( not really sure if there is an etc., but ... ).  I followed the talk by reading Debby Cotton's tweets — you still can here .  I was sitting next to her at the time, and so she was able to 'talk to me' without saying a word.  I saw something of the point of tweeting (and whatever the verb is for reading them is) through this.

Stephen organised his talk round a Venn diagram whose three components were: Sustainable education – Ecological consciousness – The sustainable society

He spoke about each and brought them together at the conclusion of his talk.  It was a grand tour of his thinking over many years with many of his favoured alliterative lists on display, for example:

Learning by doing / default / design – these map to reflection / reaction / anticipation

Levels of educational thinking: practice / provision / policy / purpose / paradigm

He ended with a declaration of his possibilist stance towards change, after Jacob Von Uexkull, the founder of the Right Livelihood Award.  Uexkull says that

" There are too many possibilities to be a pessimist.  Of course, there are also too many crises to be an optimist.  I always say, I am a possibilist".

... which sounds to me like being a meliorist without going into the messy business of agency.

I can't help but think that Stephen is at the perfect place now: a professor at a university that takes what he can do seriously, surrounded by those who share his convictions.  Time now to make that contribution that his work so far has been building up to.  I'm looking forward to it, as should we all.

Posted in: News and Updates


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