Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

If the shoe fits…

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Today, I wore a pair of sneakers I had not worn in ages. It took me less than 10 minutes to realize why: they didn’t fit very well. Thinking a little more about this, I realized that they were almost trying to impose on my feet a way of being a way that they were not naturally predisposed to being. It made me wonder why I had ever bought them in the first place. Oh, yeah, it was before I made my decision never to buy uncomfortable shoes. But these were sneakers, whoever intends to make uncomfortable sneakers? High heels,pumps, I understand; comfort is not the purpose or priority (and so I don’t wear pumps. Ever. I’m too tall in this society as it is). Sneakers, I don’t. But they are a pretty pair of sneakers, so I bought them. They sought to transform me. I could not transform them (you know, all this ‘breaking into’ shoes n stuff). This reminded me of my fave Timberland boots which I wore almost non-stop in the winter of 2009/2010 to cope with the snow in Norwich. Those were difficult to wear at first but once I got the hang of them, I could walk for hours in them and not mind.

This is really a not very subtle post about MOOCs and PLN. Someone today asked on twitter about people’s follow behavior and whether they’d unfollow someone because they disagreed with them. Most of us said we wouldn’t u follow someone based on that, unless they were posting really offensive stuff or were being really not useful.

For me, meeting new people and starting MOOCs are like trying on new shoes (no offense with the shoes analogy; women who love shoes will get how important shoes are, but in the Arab world shoes are an insult, but i mean the former). Something might look great but not fit no matter how hard you try. Something might seem hard and unmalleable (side note: WordPress thinks this word doesn’t exist?) at first but turn out to be really valuable if you give it time (Timberlands). And honestly, some things look good from the beginning and you continue to feel good with them.

And for the things that don’t fit, you can still learn to admire them from afar, understand why other people like them, evenrespect them in their difference, their distance from you. You can still try them on for size every now and then, you never know if one of you has changed. But it’s also ok to move on.

We all have different priorities and it’s ok to not keep wasting our time on shoes that just don’t fit, because,you know, there are already enough shoes that don’t fit that we’re forced to wear in our everyday lives anyway. Let’s not seek more discomfort just for the sake of it.

My friend Jan sent me a t-shirt that says “I may be wrong, but it’s highly unlikely” 🙂 So I’ll end with that.

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