What is our online book club becoming?

Our online book club’s reading of We Make the Road by Walking continues.  And it’s becoming something both new and awesome.

Ten days ago I tried to summarize all of the activity going on by looking at the many things fellow readers were doing.  The Twitter hashtag was on fire, people were blogging like mad, folks were assembling web resources and making art.

So this weekend I started summarizing book club activity since that post, and it became too huge to fit into part of a post.  Check it out:

We Make the Road By Walking

Much more bloggery occurrs. Kate Bowles has a brilliant post on spaces, communication, politics, and potential. Amy Collier meditates on leadership, chapter 3, and changing academia. Adam Croom writes on yearning, incompleteness, and chapter 4.  Alyson Indrunas takes us to the Pain Cave.  Alan Levine dives deeply into codification. Maha Bali meditates on the book’s note about education as seeing the world. Autumm Caines writes about beauty and community.

Meanwhile, Terry Elliot did a fine thing.  He set up a Hypothes.is instance for the entire book. (In the interest of openness, I’m on the Hypothes.is board)  Then Adam Croom used that resource to create a Horton/Freire quote generator.  For example,

Horton/Freire quote generated by Adam Croom

Twitter discussion continues to leap ahead at #HortonFreire.  Readers pointed to more readings, as we often do.  Ray Maxwell suggested a companion book:

Ray Maxwell on Twitter: "I am finding Booker T Washington's #WorkingWithTheHands an ideal companion to my studies of the American Renaissance and to #HortonFreire."

Kate Bowles was reminded of this article about some of Britain’s ragged schools.


Alan Levine’s TAGSExplorer instance shows just how huge the Twitter conversation has become:


Meanwhile, on the physical plane, EdSurge’s Alison Dulin floated the idea of a first-ever Horton/Freire meetup.  Lisa Hubbell reads aloud to a stranger.

Lisa Hubbell ‏@lisahubbell Read out loud from #HortonFreire p.11 to a friendly stranger on the bus; he responded w beautiful reflections on equality in God's sight.

And Kristen Eshleman, who helped inspire this very reading, spoke movingly about social justice in the spirit of Horton and Freire at last week’s Future Trends Forum.

So what does this mean?

On the one hand, I’m ecstatic.  As a fellow reader, as a teacher, as someone who lives online, this reading shows the fine potential of web-based collaboration and creativity.  What a supportive, outrageously thoughtful, and inspiring group!

On the other pseudopod, I wonder… what is this?  Almost three years ago I floated the idea, tongue in cheek, of an exploded Twitter book club.  But that doesn’t do this justice, because so much occurs off-Twitter.  Is it a cMOOC, a #DS106 for pedagogical reading?  There are definitely commonalities: the reliance on social media, the powerful role of learners as makers and connectors, the dis-integrated nature of the experience, the aegis of constructivism.  Yet this isn’t a class.  I’m not teaching it formally, nor am I expert on Horton and Freire.

Or is this something new?

I know that I love it, and want more.  I suspect others feel the same.

We’re coming up to the end of the book this week.  Can we do it again?

What do you think?



Liked it? Take a second to support Bryan Alexander on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
This entry was posted in discussions, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to What is our online book club becoming?

  1. I have a couple of book suggestions:

    Dave Gray’s Liminal Thinking (he might be very approachable to participate)
    Walter Mosley’s Folding the Red into the Black (or developing a viable untopia for human survival in the 21st century)
    Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin’s The Neo-Generalist (where you go is who you are)

    As for your generalized uplift at the end of the post howsabout a poem from David Whyte to lift it more:


    I awoke
    this morning
    in the gold light
    turning this way
    and that

    thinking for
    a moment
    it was one
    like any other.

    the veil had gone
    from my
    darkened heart
    I thought

    it must have been the quiet
    that filled my room,

    it must have been
    the first
    easy rhythm
    with which I breathed
    myself to sleep,

    it must have been
    the prayer I said
    speaking to the otherness
    of the night.

    I thought
    this is the good day
    you could
    meet your love,

    this is the black day
    someone close
    to you could die.

    This is the day
    you realize
    how easily the thread
    is broken
    between this world
    and the next

    and I found myself
    sitting up
    in the quiet pathway
    of light,

    the tawny
    close-grained cedar
    burning round
    me like fire
    and all the angels of this housely
    heaven ascending
    through the first
    roof of light
    the sun has made.

    This is the bright home
    in which I live,
    this is where
    I ask
    my friends
    to come,
    this is where I want
    to love all the things
    it has taken me so long
    to learn to love.

    This is the temple
    of my adult aloneness
    and I belong
    to that aloneness
    as I belong to my life.

    There is no house
    like the house of belonging.

    – David Whyte

  2. CogDog says:

    There is much in the book that match this experience, so kudos for setting it up that way.

    A few years ago Ben Rimes organized a DS106 Book club https://sites.google.com/site/bookclub106/home there were weekly discussion hangouts and use of the (now defunct) Google Moderator to surface and upvote questions for discussion.

    I recalled from long ago a social reading site where people could discuss a book they were all reading, it was called Book Glutton. It is no longer around, but they linked to a new service that might be viable http://www.readups.com/ It seems like you could also run some of this as a group n Hypothes.is and maybe gather around a twitter tag.

  3. Kate Bowles says:

    I was absolutely sure I only had one book club book in me, and now find myself savouring this experience so much I’d really love another.

    The hypothes.is creativity is compelling. I’d also suggest a mastodon instance as a more capacious chat environment. The 500 chars really makes a difference, although at the moment tagging is inconsistently working.

    But down the road, down the road, maybe.

  4. Pingback: We Make the Road by Walking: chapters 5 and 6 | Bryan Alexander

  5. Pingback: A look back along the _Road_: people’s work and Bryan’s antiauthoritarianism | Bryan Alexander

  6. Pingback: Reading Horton and Freire into 2017 | Bryan Alexander

  7. Pingback: That time when the AACU Virginia FacCollab held a Twitter Journal Club Event – Messy Thinking

  8. Pingback: Our next reading: Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. | Bryan Alexander

  9. Pingback: Reading _Lower Ed_: the plan | Bryan Alexander

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *