In wrestling with the notions of time and space in learning ecologies – I have come across an interesting way of thinking about skill. Tim Ingold in Being Alive describes the difference between tasks which are performed as a series of discrete steps, which he describes as being successional, and those which he describes as being processional – where every step is a measured response to what has gone before and what is still to come.
In detailing the skill required to use a hand saw in the making of a bookcase he describes the drawing of a guide line, the making of a nick in the wood in which to rest the saw – a point of departure, and the slight adjustment of each up or down stroke to ensure a straight and accurate cut in the plank. He contrasts this with both the skill required and the ability to adjust ones course mid cut, when using a circular saw.
The point to be made, for today – is that what I witnessed in those 549 hours, was the processional journey of skilled learners, accompanying apprentice learners on a journey. Within a looser conceptualization of time, learning becomes differentiated in a way that is not possible when one holds to a fixed partitioning of time, which serves only to deliver a sequential list of outcomes – regardless of what has been mastered; and what remains to be learned, in relation to one’s destination.