Monday, December 19, 2011

Fruitcake and learning in community--

Fruitcake, anathema to many—

Now becoming a new tradition in our home—homemade of course

As I mixed the fruit pieces, the walnuts and the raisins with a generous amount of an old liqueur that Gus has kept over many years, I got to thinking about learning in community. Later as we worked through the process of mixing the batter, of stirring in the marinated fruit mixture, of spooning the rich goodness into the fluted iron bundt pan, of the shared process of putting the heavy pan into the oven, removing it when it was done, and releasing the fruitcake from the pan—that analogy to learning in community stuck with me.

The fruits, the walnuts, the raisins, missing together ——like the diverse, unique members of a community sharing ideas in a common space—

The liqueur, the batter once laden with 5 eggs, white flour, brown sugar—bringing the best of what is forward- the liqueur, the brown sugar and imagining what might be by exchanging the eggs for egg beaters and the white flour for wheat.
In community, bringing what works for us now in schools, for example, PLCs (professional learning communities) and moving them into the current century with CLCs (connected learning communities).

The shared, true collaborative process of putting the heavy cake into the oven, removing it, and then extracting it from the pan—you see I’ve a shoulder that doesn’t work right and can’t lift heavy and Gus’ balance is more than tippy thanks to his MS—so we play to our strengths— his strong arms and upper body and my good balance- I hold him steady while he moves the pan to the oven and out, and as he turns the pan upside down to release the cake— each of us appreciating what the other can do. In community, playing to the gifts and talents of each member, building on those strengths, accomplishing a task, learning something together, doing more together than we could as individuals.

And finally the fruitcake, in all it’s glory, flavors nuanced by each fruit piece, each walnut, each raisin—admittedly not perfect— bearing reflection and considerations on bringing forward what worked and trying new strategies. As in community, a more accomplished global practice that necessitates reflection and ongoing development of expertise, persevering toward deep thought by exploring ideas and concepts, rethinking, revising, and continual repacking and unpacking, resisting urges to finish prematurely.

The huge disconnect here, of course, is that our wonderfully collaborative process of making fruitcake is an annual event—so unlike the ongoing, continuous exploring, experimentation, and deep learning in community.

Yet there is a lot to be said for both! I’m on my way to learning in community and to enjoying our fruitcake while dreaming of next year!

Photo credit fruitcake
Photo credit community

No comments: