The Efflorescence of Learning

This post inspired by the #blimage* invitational series.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 10.43.48 AMTake a look at this picture and what do you see?

That wall –  at least on the right – has a serious case of efflorescence – the salty, crystalline eruption that commonly disfigures porous brickwork exposed to damp.

On the left the wall seems composed of old bricks of diverse origins – remaindered bricks that have been re-purposed.

These two walls –  this composite bric(k)olage – was covered over and shored up with a layer of concrete which is now falling away – its surfaced marred by the markings of spray paint vandals.

This is all – obviously and of course – a perfect set of metaphors for the world of education.

On the left you see the bricks in the wall of education. All rather different and rather the worse for wear the brick learners are layered in yearly batches and cemented together with a common curriculum. This is called school.

On the right you see what happens when school is done. The natural efflorescence emerges in spite of the efforts to prevent it. Learners will be themselves and if confined to one wall then the results look rather alike – a chalky, crumbly disfiguring mess covering over the  veneer of learning.

This is called reality.

The concrete is the final effort to contain and cover up the reality of learners and learning.

This is called get a grit, no excuses, last ditch effort, accountability.

But that too cannot endure and it falls away in sliding slabs.

This is called inevitability

Like the dandelion that grows in the concrete roadway – the truth will out!

And here, the words of the prophets are written on the walls by spray paint vandals.

And this is called learning outcomes.

Blog + Image = *Blimage  rhymes with scrimmage. It’s  like a set of nested dolls –  a portmanteau word within a portmanteau word.

Blog-a modern portmanteau* word
breakfast plus lunch= brunch
smoke plus fog = smog
web plus log = blog

Humpty Dumpty Explains it all to Alice

“Well, “slithy” means “lithe and slimy.” “Lithe” is the same as “active.” You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word…

…Well then, ‘mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ (there’s another portmanteau for you).”

From Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

*Portmanteau – from French “porter” (to carry) and “manteau” (a coat or cover) – a large travelling bag or suitcase with two compartments, hence the linguistic fusing of two words and their meanings into one.

YOU are invited to take up the #blimage challenge using one of these:


  1. Superb take on the #blimage challenge, and some awesome metaphors for education. Great work!

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