A Glimpse of Mystory…
I start this blog from a place of curiosity, unknowing, and uncertainty, as I have never created a blog before. My name is Kathie McKinnon, I have recently been invited to become a faculty member with TRU Open Learning both in the Nursing Department and the Human Service Program. To date, I have led a multi-storied life in my professional practice as a narrative therapist, social worker, re-searcher (to ‘re-search’ is to search and search again for alternatives and possibilities in re-search, therapeutic space, and in a learning environment), and sessional instructor with TRU Faculty of Education and Social Work in the School of Social Work and Human Service. I have a partner; I am a mother of two incredible daughters, and a Bubbie to two beautiful grand daughters who are my soul food.
Where I LOVE to Be…
I have many favorite vacation spots in the world, but these days I spend all of my vacation time in Montreal. Montreal is my homeland; this is where my daughters, their partners, and my beautiful grand daughters live. I have a cozy loft in an old warehouse built in 1873 that I call home. My two grand daughters, Sadie and Margot have transformed my life like never before. Being-with and being-in the world with them has co-created a heighten relational dimension of love, meaning making, and togetherness – this is why Montreal is my favorite spot to be on the planet.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (Jill Twiss and EG Keller, 2018) is a current favorite of mine and my 8 month old grand daughter, Margot. We read this book many times together on my last visit to Montreal in January 2019. This book is a politic satire about Vice President Mike Pence’s pet bunny Marlon Bundo. Marlon is the lonely bunny of the Vice President of the United States. Marlon falls in love with another boy bunny. Marlon is told that boy bunnies cannot marry boy bunnies because being different is a bad thing to be. All their other animal friends say that being different is a not bad thing and vote the stinkbug who makes up these untruths and rules out of office. Everyone lives happy ever after.
As a narrative therapist, social worker, re-searcher, and instructor who practices from a relational stance, I position my professional and personal being-with others using a social constructionist approach. Social constructionism invites creativity and collaboration in constructing alternatives and expanding possibilities, requiring collaboration in different ways (Gergen, 2009b), inviting relational participation. From a social constructionist stance, the world comes to be for us through relationships. This happens through participation with others and our relation to the collective meaning making we create together. Social construction is a means to relationally situate a learning environment as ‘we’ – not ‘I’ – and to construct meaning making and co-create possibilities as located relationally in both action and practice. As a constructionist, the tenor of any learning environment is curious, creative, collaborative, and conversational – a composition of co-inquiry.
In the past nine years, I have taught face-to-face while only teaching online for the past five months. My intentions have been to encourage safe space for dialogical discourse and to embrace conversational co-inquiry. Engagement in curious and at times courageous conversation have improved my own understanding as an instructor in the leaning-in, being-in, and being-with others in the process of mutual meaning making.
Just like Alice cried, when she was stretching very tall toward the ceiling before she unlocked the door with the golden key to her relationally rich adventures in Wonderland, I too have become “curiouser and curiouser” (Carroll, 2006, p. 8) about where this new online learning journey may take me. I am full of curious questions at this point…. How will I unlearn my old ways and learn new technological ways of being-with others in a virtual learning environment? Where will these adventures in online reality take me? How do I invite patience and a sense of comfort with my unknowing and uncertainty about the use of technology? Curiosity?
Carroll, L. (2006). Alice’s adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.
Gergen, K. (2009b). Relational being beyond self and community. New York, NY: Oxford Community Press.
Sir John Tenniel, (1865), Alice stretched tall.