‘Practice Story Exchanges’ and their Creative Invitation to Informal Learning

‘Practice Story Exchanges’ and their Creative Invitation to Informal Learning

Peter Willis (University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/ijavet.2013070106


This is a study of how members of a collaborative group interested in promoting convivial civilisation in human society took up exchanging practice stories – stories of doing something or seeing something done as examples of convivial backyard civilisation – in order tacitly to create an informal learning environment where practices of such a convivial backyard civilisation could seem normal, desirable and do-able. Practice story exchanges were an attempt to ‘tell the truth but tell it slant’ as Emily Dickenson put it, to work tentatively and collaboratively avoiding too much direct confrontation and rigid debate. This paper talks of the work of creating conviviality to redress an over emphasis on productivity in society; of the nature and importance of informal learning and its links with story exchanges and how this is pursued in the work of the Australian Centre for Convivial Backyard Civilisation (ACCBC).
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Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind---

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


Balancing Convivial And Competitive Civilizations

The educational challenge for the Australian Centre for Convivial Backyard Civilisation is to explore and reflect on conditions of conviviality in human society. Conviviality is about courteous, equitable, creative and compassionate living. Convivial living evokes pictures of people sharing a meal together. It is used here as a working image of mankind as a human family: at home somewhere in the world and its various eco-systems, inter-related, respectful and inclusive. It traces an oblique and possibly more humanistic line from Illich’s Tools for Conviviality (1973)

The convivial table is a working metaphor alongside images of contemporary competitive value: the champion winning in competition leaving the defeated unseen behind; the armed soldier giving security against attack from enemies; the scientist who discovers a new drug or physical correlation; the inventor who develops new technology; the entrepreneur who founds and builds up enterprises and becomes enriched as the enterprise and its stakeholders prosper often in competition with others who are toppled. These tend to give weight to heroic human individual and competitive achievement and not so much to collaborative and non-competitive human service.

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