Posted by: Richard Schwier | November 25, 2011

Murmuration and transient, beautiful learning

My good friend Ron Marken told me to do a search on “murmuration” and “vimeo” this morning. When Ron says something is good, I jump to it, and I have never been disappointed.  This little video by Sophie Windsor Clive is breathtaking. She was not only incredibly lucky to fall into this event with a camera rolling, but she does one of the best jobs of steady-cam in a canoe I’ve ever seen.

But more importantly, the content is exhilarating. A murmur of starlings is not just an environment where mathematicians can discuss chaos theory, it is a flat out gorgeous display of nature. And it is a wonderful metaphor for learning.  It reminds me so much of what great learning can be — social, poetic, graceful, surprising. And fleeting–oh so fleeting. We often talk about the durability of learning, as if learning needs to endure for it to matter.

Maybe not.  Maybe those brief encounters with new learning, those times when we sweep around together as we chase an idea, only to forget it in a day, week, or month, are important.  Maybe that kind of learning matters too–maybe more. Maybe a lot of meaning and joy in learning happens while we are flying wing-to-wing, building fresh and temporary patterns.  What’s so bad about that?


Responses

  1. Thanks for this, Rick. My second-favourite moment in that video is the final image of the young woman, grinning. And all she can muster is a choked giggle — and that says it all.
    My first-favourite moment came just after I clicked on the link and said to myself, “What’s this supposed to be about?” just before the air turned to ballet.
    As Horatio said, “The rest is silence.”

  2. You’re so right, Ron. The canoeists were gobsmacked. As wonderful as the video was, can you imagine what it would have been like to be in the canoe?

    And to anyone else reading this, can you see why I love this guy?

  3. Oh stop it, Rick! lol
    It’s mutual, and we have bathroom renovations in common, and they ain’t no murmurations!


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