The future

view of bush from cabin

Dear C,
I am sorry we have not yet had the chance to meet in person. I am currently on seven months leave without pay, but usually lecture in Outdoor and Environmental Education as part of what is the new School of Education. You began your new position, just as I began my leave. As required under the conditions of my leave, I am writing to inform you of my intentions once my leave is complete.

During my leave I have been travelling around this wide, brown island of ours. As you may imagine, journeying long distances provides one with plenty of thinking time. Being away from the daily business of the university, has afforded me many hours with which to contemplate the second half of my life – metaphorically and physically. My leave was prompted by my partner, who was observing the effect my work was having on me. I am so grateful for her intervention. The time on the road has been cathartic at the very least.

I write to you from one of Australia’s great World Heritage Areas, Cradle Mountain National Park. I am sitting in the type of country I have spent many hundreds of hours, shared with hundreds of wonderful outdoor education students from Fed Uni. I have helped them to connect with the natural world, hoping they might pass that connection on to their students once they are out working. It is this time with students, in and out of the classroom I feel I have the most impact. I found my way to academia by following my desire to have a ‘ripple effect’, hoping to encourage behaviour change in bulk by teaching our future teachers. If I can support one student to engage with the natural world, and they in turn support a handful of keen young people, then the impact can be swift and strong.

The students’ feedback suggests I have done this pretty well.

It is with a heavy heart, and a strong sense of purpose, that I will pack up my office and head off in search of a replacement for universities. A replacement not just for me, but for future learners, thinkers and doers. Seth Godin has recently placed that wish on his list of things to achieve in the future, I am placing it on mine, now. A new way to reflect, question, argue, test, translate and learn.

I have come to the realisation I am a terrible academic. I am just not selfish enough to succeed in such a world. I don’t want my students to learn in such an environment. The selfishness of needing to place myself before my students and colleagues, to ignore pleas for help from students and self-promote at any opportunity. This goes against a great deal of what I work with my students to achieve – to encourage them to work together to build a better world.

Yes, it sounds idealistic. I am sure you and many of my colleagues will suggest lots of solutions to work ‘within the system’ to achieve my goals. I have fought within the system for a number of years and our small team at Fed Uni has accomplished many successes working together, championing a valuable niche area. Increasingly I feel we have been taking one step forward and two steps back as we struggle to create a valuable program in challenging conditions. I feel there is a better way to train the teachers of the future, and I am off to work out what that might be.

I sincerely thank you and the University for the opportunity to work with such wonderful students and staff. Thanks also for providing me with the seven months to consider my future, with the security of a job to return to. It’s time for me to take a leap into the unknown, so I will not be returning on 15 February, 2019.

Many thanks,
Geoff.

Born in the wrong decade…

It appears I was simply born at the wrong time, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

I’ll have to find another way to take over the world. Time for Gen X’s to go underground and topple the younger mob.

Gen Y @ 30: charmed, tech savvy and ready to take over
GENERATION Y finally means business. They are far better educated and more globally aware and technologically savvy than any generation before them, and they are about to turn 30 this year. The oldest members of this privileged generation are poised to grab the management reins and revolutionise the workplace to suit themselves…

…The baby boomers love them – after all, they were the doting parents that raised them. And as the boomers’ extended reign in the workplace draws to an end, social and economic forecasters predict they are more likely to anoint gen Yers as their chosen successors over the unfortunate generation Xers who have been politely waiting their turn.

Time to get out into ‘the wild’ once more…

Anson Cameron considers the fall out of Victorian Minister for Water, Tim Holding, getting lost in the Victorian Alps:

To couch potatoes all over: get lost

It’s sad to live in a time when a man is slated for walking alone on a mountain. A cowardly age where the supine pontificate through a spray of Cheezels crumbs.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/to-couch-potatoes-all-over-get-lost-200…

How to bake bread and whip cream without beaters

Cross posted on the Camp Cooinda Facebook page

I was reminiscing recently about time spent away from what many would call, “life’s modern conveniences”, in a land far far away – at least a tiny low lying island in East Gippsland. The special place that is Cooinda Island.

I remembered all the things I learnt on that place both as a camper and leader, some of which I still use today – also, some that strangely do not come up during day to day activities.

How to make bread and skin an eel

My first memory of the Isle, is what I think was my first summer as a camper. Dave and Al were the charismatic island directors and provided so much of what I feel Cooinda ‘is’. Dave is the author of the ‘Dave’s piece of piss bread’ recipe, the handwritten recording of which still in the Island cookbook today (I think?) – also attached at the bottom of this post.

Also on that impressionable summer, I learnt how to skin and smoke an eel, who ‘CondoMan‘ is and most importantly, learnt the ‘Noddy Joke’

I have never eaten eel again, mainly because I doubt I could ever manage to achieve the same amazing flavours again. I did however, twenty years later, make a CondoMan t-shirt which I still wear today.

The bread has been cooked by island directors every year since and, is something I continue to whip up – using a black garbage bag (to help with the proving) and imprecise measurements – at home from time to time.

Bake a cake in the sun and whip cream with two butter knives

My first cake produced in the solar oven was a piece of mastery, the discovery that so little can produce a little something wonderful, was amazing.

Scones, jam and cream was called for next. But the cream needs whipping.

No problem, we’ll grab the beaters…rusted solid… No drama, apparently the desired result can be achieved using a couple of butter knives. I have no idea how I discovered this, I imagine from whoever was on the island of knowledge at the time. So, two butter knives and about half an hour of frantic beating later, whipped cream!

All life long knowledge and skills that I suspect I would struggle to acquire anywhere else.

What has Cooinda Island taught you?

spotted – public thoughts #1

On the wall of Country Road at the corner of Faraday and Lygon Streets, Carlton. Some food for thought:

The best things in life
are not the things…

It’s okay if you don’t know everything

The more you know you know you don’t know shit…
So why you gotta act like you know when you don’t know?
It’s okay if you don’t know everything.
(ben folds 2005)