Connected Learning as Poetry

Walt WhitmanI am intrigued by yet one more #ConnectedLearning Mooc, this time a somewhat threatening one known as #CLmooc: the Connected Learning MOOC. Ironic that as I sit here working on this post,  just shared a Tweet with a reference to a related poem. Small world.

While those who want to control education, open and interactive moocs may indeed be threatening experiences, yet this one is different — it is threatening because it is envision on a connected, maker model. It is described as:

a collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning

Its threat is because I do not see myself as particularly creative, and I do not make much (or much tangible, that it). In raising this concern a couple times on the #CLmooc tag, I was reassured that creativity and making and connecting with others around us is more a state of mind (I am creative if I think I am creative), and this experiences is as broad or expansive as I want it to be.

OK, in the spirit of connected learning and making . . . here goes.

This said, I have been tossing around two ideas that fit somewhat into a creative, making frame, and I want to start by mentioning one of them, poetry.


Yes, poetry.

Many who I work with and interactive with online, along with those in my professional life, may not know that my second master’s degree in in English and American Literature. In fact, my thesis was on a selection of Walt Whitman’s poems, specifically in his Calamus cycle.

In drafting this post, I came back again and again to his work, which I have before me in hardcover, along with a link to it electronically, Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand which I am quoting here:

WHOEVER you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be
your sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives
around you would have to be abandon’d,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let
go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.

Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof’d room of a house I emerge not, nor in com-
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any
person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or
some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.

Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried

But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will
certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me,
Already you see I have escaped from you.

For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few)
prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil,
perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times
and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.

While Whitman was playing with the text as poet and book, along with levels of erotic love, it has me thinking that the various levels of meaning has further implications for how we learn and connect with one another.

One other thing many people do not know about me–I am a published poet. My poem Medication Literacy is even in a reviewed journal.

Perhaps it is time to explore making . . . poetry . . . over the next couple of weeks in CLMOOC? Why not? Even Whitman continued to write and revise his poetry until the very end!

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