An Andy Stables Sort of Sky

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I miss Andy Stables' wit, wisdom and insightfulness, and I thought of him last month as grandoffspring and I went pond dipping in the Cotswold Water Park.  In particular, I thought of this paper:

Stables, A 2001, 'Who drew the sky? Conflicting assumptions in environmental education', Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 245-256

It begins:

'Who drew the sky?' is clearly a naive question.  The sky, as part of the biosphere, cannot be understood as a work of art or of human design.  It is no text or picture.  To understand the sky requires a solid grounding in mathematically based 'natural' science.  Nobody 'authored' the sky.

Yet the sky in question – the sky that prompted the title of this paper – was an intriguing pattern of blue and white, a typical English sky following rain when the wind is a fresh westerly.  Against a background of the deepest blue, a vast arrowhead of mostly high cirrus aimed vaguely towards the western horizon, whilst beneath it a few puffballs of cumulus moved more visibly in a still breeze.  Across all this were etched three of four aeroplane vapour trails, in varying degrees of increasing fragmentation, the tails of the least recently produced a mass of tiny clouds virtually indistinguishable from those produced by other means.  This sky was the result of natural processes in which human beings were implicated, possibly on a number of levels.  This sky was, indeed, constructed; it was, in a sense, a text, particularly in the ancient sense of a 'text' as 'weaving' (from the Latin textere 'to weave'). As Barthes reminded us in The Death of the Author, (Barthes, 1977), it is always a moot question as to who was responsible for it.  On the other hand, of course, it was not a text at all."

See what I mean?  Andy brought new dimensions to environmental education grounded in literature and philosophy.

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