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Call For Speakers: Welcome to the 2018 Ragged University Year

Well the 2018 Ragged University year has started in the background where venues have been contacted, equipment organised, and preparations made so that this years events are all ready for people to take part in. We hope that your winter has been fun, relaxing and suitably warm. The sun is returning with the bright fresh light of spring and the birds have started chattering.

Ragged University

It is at this point that the call for speakers and events is put out, inviting everyone to do a talk or do an activity in which you share what you are passionate about.  It can be anything, it just has to be something which you enjoy.

This project is not about being the worlds expert, or delivering a speech which drops jaws at Carnegie Hall; this project is a friendly, social space where we come together, break bread, and take pleasure in learning about what someone has invested their interest and life in.

The principal is that as social creatures, we learn through social means and play.  We learn through being in conversation with others, sharing, and getting the opportunity to exercise what we have learned.

If you want to do a talk or event and need a little help planning or finding out how to go about it, then you can get that support.  Just get in touch and we can meet up over a cuppa and help plan what you have in mind.  Remember, you will be sharing with a room full of friendly people who are interested in you as a person.

You will see how simple it is to chat about the things you already know, which already keep drawing you back to discover more.  This is the special secret sauce!

 

My Nerves Were Unfounded

When I started doing the Ragged University project I had never spoken in front of a room of people and I did not have much experience talking about the ideas which I had been working on.  As an analogy, like many people, I only sang in the shower, never sharing in singing with others.  I was nervous seven years ago and did not know that Ragged University would work as an idea however soon discovered that it REALLY WAS FUN.

Meeting in pubs and doing it in social spaces made the difference.  It was a tradition which I could relate to, which I felt a part of – that older practice where everyone has a ditty to share, some party piece because it is a party.  This is part of the glue, the fabric, the stuff of everyday life – we share what we learn and do with others, and learn and get to do stuff with others who we are on friendly terms with.

You are a Ragged University, so are your friends and loved ones; try to think about the people who you enjoy the company of because they are interesting and entertain through the interesting stuff they do. Your pals are wellsprings of information and chances to do stuff, stretching yourself in new ways.

 

Who Is Interested ?

I think this awful way of looking at our personal lifes, our intellectual lives (of which everyone has).  It is a washover from an over produced, over commercialised, demographically manicured, stratified culture.  It makes about as much sense as asking who likes eating food.  The setting and company is all important.

By making sure that the Ragged University project is something which is not poisoned by money, those who take part and come along are intrinsically motivated – that is, they are their because of the interest, not the pomp and circumstance, not the ‘extrinsic reward’ of getting loot or holding court; this is about individuals sharing with other individuals on their own terms.  This is why Ragged Uni events only happen in informal spaces which we all own and make up; institutional space ‘institute’ rules on what happens within them.

All this hokum about target audiences and demographics is a side-effect of an overly industrialised society I feel.  Demographics seem to serve more to separate people and place a ‘fixed mindset‘ (as Carol Dweck would put it) than understand the interconnected and polymathic instincts of people.  Humans are naturally interested and curious beings – I have met someone who revealed to me many intriguing and fascinating things about bricks!

Like the food analogy, what food is not nice ? Well, it depends on who has cooked it.  I used to think I did not like Indian food – how very wrong I was; it was that I had not tried Indian food which I had liked that was the reality.  Ragged University is a way for me to help get away from these categorical ways of seeing, thinking and ultimately being that only serve to make a narrower, less interesting, less textured experience of life and knowledge.

 

What Can You Share As A Part of Ragged Uni ?

What you share can be anything – over the years people have organised storytelling picnics in the park, tester sessions of Parkour, live music, conversations in the countryside and more… Lead with your imagination and sense of pleasure.  I have been on the most enjoyable learning adventure of my life because I became a coordinator of ‘Ragged University events’; it has made me see things in the world I did not see, try things I had not tried, meet people I had not met, think about things I had not thought about.  It has made me a better person because I see more in life, and as a result of exercising skills and trying (in good company), I can do more things.  I also get offered more opportunities to get involved in what people are doing.

A big part of this is understanding the value of the experience which people have and share.  The organisational side of the events is taken care of for you (unless you would like to be involved as a coordinator).  So giving a talk should be fun for you.  Everyone who does it walks away feeling pleased and a little thrilled at having done it.

It is part of the human experience which is embroidered throughout our lives, which is why the axiom of the project is “Everybody is a Ragged University; a unique and distinct body of knowledge accredited with their life experience and with a membership of one”.

This is part of a long heritage of shared learning based in the informal setting of communities of people.  The project is named after the informal Ragged Schools which eventually gave birth to the primary school system in the UK where the government of its time first understood how vital it was to give individuals a chance to practice and learn skills as well as be valued for their capabilities.

Ragged University is about reflecting on this tradition and doing the same in the adult context, taking inspiration from individuals involved in education from all cultures in all times – for sure as eggs are eggs, if you look, every culture and time has a living tradition of free, informal, universal education.

So, come on in, the water is warm.  Please share your knowledge, skills, arts and experience with others by doing a talk or activity as a part of the Ragged University; you are with friends.

Get in touch and do a talk or event, join the party 🙂

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