On the back foot: in which we aim to re-affirm our enlightenment values despite being temporarily in an uncomfortable position

Owen, Jon (2008) On the back foot: in which we aim to re-affirm our enlightenment values despite being temporarily in an uncomfortable position. Horizons, 41 . pp. 7-9.

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Abstract

The definition of an educated person includes scepticism towards dogma, authority and ‘common sense’. The openness to investigation and fact that should also impel journalism and governance - it’s about ‘debugging’ yourself, to the extent that it’s possible, and goes with functioning in a democracy. It is unnatural - you need that in science but not only in science. - Stephen Pinker. I’m pretty sure that ‘on the back foot’ is a phrase that has its roots in cricket. As I understand it, it describes the situation you find yourself in when, as a batsman (batswoman?), you are on the receiving end of a bowling onslaught. I’m not much of a cricketer, but can imagine my composure being rattled by an especially fast delivery or two. I can also see how this phrase may have cleared the boundary of the cricket pitch and landed in other arenas of modern life where similar situations occur: interviews; public speaking; coaching and teaching. In this article I intend to explore how sometimes the kinds of metaphors that pervade our language might not be as useful as they seem, either for ourselves or those around us. I want to invite you to think about your default ways of responding to situations that occur when you are managing learning, with a view to ensuring that they are truly ‘fit for purpose’. I hope to show you that being ‘on the back foot’ can be a wonderful place to be - at least in terms of discharging our responsibilities as educators. But first let’s go back, way back in time to the Dark Ages – a time before enlightenment…

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Horizons
Publisher: Institute for Outdoor Learning
ISSN: 1462-0677
Departments: Early Years and Primary Undergraduate Partnership QG
Additional Information: Jon works for the University of Cumbria, with bases at both Ambleside and Penrith. He manages a number of initiatives which aim to support the outdoor sector, including a sport workforce development project - known as ‘Get Qualified’ - and the University’s Centre for Outdoor Management Education and Training - a.k.a. ‘COMET’. He does some undergraduate teaching within the School of Outdoor Studies, relating to one of his passions: the psychological aspects of outdoor adventurous activities.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2018 16:05
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2018 16:53
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3715

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