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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lovers of laughter, lovers of life

The most significant recognition I have ever received was short and came in an email:
Dear Beverly - thank you for the sharpness of your mind and the playfulness of your heart.

It came from the person, a leading writer and researcher, who has most influenced my practical and theoretical understanding of learning. Of life, in other words.

And I am reminded of it as I translate João Vasconcelos Costa's post Pedagogia do Riso (Pedagogy of Laughter) for the Blog Translation Carnival on the 28th Feb. In his post JVC talks about the importance of humour for him, in the classroom and in the rest of his life. He calls on humour to be a transversal competence in the Bolonha process.

Not confusing humour with lecturers who merely imagine they are being entertaining (!) I wanted to add something to what JVC says - about developing a Pedagogy of Playfulness for learning. In other words, it isn't just about humour, it's about playfulness and curiosity as well. It's a carnival full of uncertainty and surprise. It's about scruffy learning - so important in the whirling contingencies of international and digital life.

And yes, if I had one wish for the influence of Bolonha on my day-to-day life, it would be for more playfulness and less piety from the top-heavy hierarchies weighed down by the gravity of life in Higher Education.

My own trajectory in Portugal - as an inglesa with manias has cost me in terms of my research and career. Candour, enthusiasm and a sense of humour are not qualities that add to your academic status in the echelons of the Portuguese Higher Education system I know. But I wouldn't trade playfulness and a sharp mind for any "serious" position in the hierarchy! As I've said somewhere else - Viva as chicas espertas!

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