Summertime…

Summer reflection post

 

So it’s been a while since my last post but this MOOC winter and my MA finals took their toll, I guess… Living in Greece also makes you want to spend the hot summer by the sea sipping “frape” -i.e. cold instant coffee – and casually hanging out …

Vacations are almost over, though. During my summer break it was time for some inner reflexion. This blog helped me immensely, since I understood a lot of my strengths and weaknesses in writing. Using English as a foreign language is still hard even after practicing for years.

 

During this summer I also started using Pinterest, which is a visual torrent of goodies for educators, tech, fashion and whatever you can think of, really. Social media are on the rise and here to stay, as I ‘ve said before.

 

Regarding MOOCs I am almost to a close with a cMOOC this time. Despite the fact that I enrolled in three of the kind, this one kept me going – my forthcoming posts will include homework realted to game studies.

When I first started this blog I thought I could have a place of my own to reflect on e-learning, distance and lifelong education and MOOCs.  I could swear, I wasn’t up to keeping a blog, much less update it frequently and yet I did – now onwards to new inspirations, novel writings and many lovely things to come…

So, dear WordPress, thank you for making me  stay…

 

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took this one during my trip to Thessaloniki… **so deep**

Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade – Week 2: Journal entries 1 & 2 {Coursera / MSJC}

Module 1 Writing Activity

In your journal, write down a list of at least five to ten nouns and five to ten adjectives as you observe a scene at home, work, or in your community.

For the purposes of this assignment I chose a scene from my community, my town called Alexandroupolis situated in Northern Greece.

Nouns [10]: 

  • sea
  • lighthouse
  •  cafés
  • seagull
  • street
  • cars
  • amusement park
  • square
  • fountain
  • street lamps

Adjectives [10]:

  • bustling
  • bright
  • towering
  • local
  • colorful
  • flying
  • seaside
  • cozy
  • luminous
  • azure (blue)

Module 2 Writing Activity

In your journal, continue your list of nouns and adjectives by adding in five to ten verbs and adverbs. Then, write a couple of sentences using your list of nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.

Verbs [10]:

  •  teem with
  • glow
  • are located
  • squawk
  • discern
  • marvel
  • stretch
  • stroll
  • draw one’s gaze
  • is/are

Adverbs [10]:

  • brightly
  • casually
  • noisily
  • enough
  • typically
  • almost
  • soon
  • virtually
  • surely
  • there

Sentences [8]:

How can you not  marvel at the azure blue sea that stretches beyond the horizon?

A flying seagull squawks noisily up ahead in the distance.

If you look close enough, you could almost discern a small fountain next to the  towering lighthouse.

The bustling street is teeming with cars parked across the lane.

On the left our gaze is drawn by a colorful wheel; an amusement park is surely somewhere over there.

People in the square are casually strolling around or drinking refreshments at the local cafés.

Typically, seaside cafés are located virtually everywhere in Greece; cozy tables of four accomodating groups of friends or family reunions discussing hours on end while sipping “frape”.

As nightfall time closes in,  luminous street lamps will start glowing brightly.

The Modern and the Post modern 8th (final) assignment {Wesleyan / Coursera}

Which two thinkers in our class do you think Anthony Appiah would consider “cosmopolitan” in his terms?

Cosmopolitan versus the Really real.

Richard Rorty’s analytical philosophy introduces the concept of post-modern pragmatism and the dire relationship of the vocabulary we use and perceive as “truth” with the community we belong to. Worlds outside this community do not qualify for us to review or judge, since we are in effect irrelevant to these and these to us.  The notion is close to the Hegelian ideals and their sense that human dignity and moral derive from being a part of the community [4].

Kwame Anthony Appiah takes this idea a step further and suggests that people, who belong in different communities, are in fact capable of exchanging ideas about morality – what’s right or wrong – thus engaging in a globalized discourse. These people are considered “cosmopolitans” [1], a term coined from the 4th century BCE Ancient Greek words “cosmos” (world) and “polis” (city state). A global citizen of the world is briefly described in his book “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers”:

Cosmopolitans think human variety matters because people are entitled to the options they need to shape their lives in partnership with others”. [1]

He’s being careful while analyzing the “cosmopolitan” post-modernist identity by refusing to put fixed cultural tags to specific groups of people; one can rather accumulate a range of characteristics from various communities in order to shape his own cultural identity through a multiplicity of traditions. In a sense a cosmopolitan identity is an overlap of identities; depending on what context one finds oneself, one projects the most suitable part of it accordingly.

What about the criticism against “global citizens”? Well, Appiah doesn’t advocate the purity of a certain tradition – meaning that it is only meant for members of that particular community alone to uphold – but he doesn’t want to abandon the sense of belonging to your community either. Originally a paradox but Appiah explains that we in fact need to both have a healthy sense of national pride as well as understanding international neighbor communities without letting our own background overlap all others. He remarks

And the one thought that cosmopolitans share is that no local loyalty can ever justify forgetting that each human being has responsibilities to every other”[1]

Appiah might have considered some key figures of (post -)modernist philosophy and art as “cosmopolitans”.  Rorty after all believes that it is in art we must seek to converse, in order to discover our identity:

“The principal backup for historiography is not philosophy but the arts, which serve to develop and modify a group’s self-image by, for example, apotheosizing its heroes, diabolizing its enemies, mounting dialogues among its members, and refocusing its attention”.[4]

 In his poem “Crowds” [2], Baudelaire wanders around the boulevards of Paris, with no particular reason. His idea of the “flâneur“ means essentially finding delight in observing people and witnessing unknown scenes of human interaction, which might come as a refreshing surprise to the viewer. In retrospect the wanderer becomes less selfish by getting out of his lonely shell, of his boring sheltered space and delving into the wider world, “the Crowd”. Appiah’s words do portray a sense of belonging to a broader world yet the backbone of his philosophy is there in Paris Spleen; go out and meet the world, whether that’s the Earth’s countries or just the other part of the city you rarely visit.

Coming to a more recent thinker, Butler seems to uphold that same “cosmopolitan” ideal as well, despite focusing on gender issues alone. In her book “Undoing Gender” she is convinced that gender is “a practice of improvisation with a sense of constraint.” [3] If we take this definition and apply it to having a globalized identity then

  1. People do improvise when coming to terms with other customs, religions, beliefs in their attempt to understand them
  2. People are constrained in their own social, economic and cultural background, thus making it hard to wholly embrace the “Other” – in return they engage in a dialogue with it, trying to understand it – achieving the “cosmopolitan” global ideal.

Appiah’s post-modern tradition is interesting, since it connects the modern human world with a sense of practicality. It also reaches out equally to developed and emerging societies, without falling victim of euphemology or global utopia (Hippy 60s style). He shows a deep understanding of how difficult the task of global understanding is, he respects tradition as well as co-existence and offers valuable insight instead of vague empty philosophical rhetoric of what’s really “Real”.

Works cited:

  1. Appiah, Anthony “Cosmopolitan Contamination” from Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. 2006.
  2. Baudelaire, Charles: Le Spleen de Paris. 1869. Web. Retrieved 13th May 2013 from http://baudelaire.litteratura.com/le_spleen_de_paris.php#.UYeb-LWeOSo
  3. Butler, Judith.  “Undoing Gender”.  2004.
  4. Rorty, Richard. “Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism”. The Journal of Philosophy
    Vol. 80, No. 10, Part 1: Eightieth Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. 1983

We are all readers. We are all writers. {I am a writer essay prompt for Coursera / Duke University English Composition I}

I AM A WRITER

 

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You told me to talk about days past and writing memories of old…Bitter rejections came to mind. Strange what a timeline of memoires can surface in people’s minds. Why is it that we always covet to remind ourselves of happiness and satisfaction? The harder we try the more we seem to drift to painful reminisces of past failures and mistakes in all matters of the heart and mind.

I looked upon my timeline and amongst scarce information I could only detect one or two blissful writing moments. Well, maybe three. Is it writing itself the villain? Am I to blame pen and pencil or that crude electronic device? Or perhaps is it the readers of my writings who pointed fingers arrogantly, my dismissive first grade teacher, my ever unsatisfied mother, my harsh supervising professor, all those criticizing faces…I should stop my “enemies” runt right there. Writing, ladies and gentlemen, is innocent! It’s the reading, the real culprit.

If one reads, one writes. If one knows how to read, one knows how to write. If one appreciates himself as a reader, then he will – I assure you – appreciate another as a writer. Beware of what you write and most of all beware of what you read.