Thoughts about Pentecost spirits


«The ghost of electricity howls in the bones on her face» – I always assumed that there is an energy within the woman that radiates out from her, as though the ghost of electricity were howling in her bones. spunky2018 on r/bobdylan


I often remember this poetry when I think about human interaction. Thoughts are based on radiation and on trust between people. Trust generates insights and radiation between people. This is a metaphor of course but let me go a long way round to explain.

There is the Pentecost narrative in the Christian tradition, which I took in as a boy. It tells the story of the descent of the Spirit upon the disciples, who were in great distress (the apostles in that case). There was a mighty rushing wind and tongues as of fire appeared. The gathered disciples were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (see Wikipedia for detail).

You can read this narrative as about the force at the base of teaching (in the sense of preaching).

An utterance is believed to have the power to spread just like tongues of fire – and just like flying sparks, to convey this power to the disciples, so that they will speak in the same tongues. – Though they often speak in strange tongues at first.

The situation is traditionally portrayed as the group of apostles with rays of light or tongues of fire, representing the spirit from above (I omit the dove). In this way, the force was given by the authority to the teacher (who was in great distress), so that he could convey the truth to the many disciples. And they were refilled with the rushing wind and the fire of the learning objectives. 😉


But I read it in yet another way today, after the ONL experience. When the Spirit arrives not from above, but from the inside of the group, then it symbolises what we have experienced in Open Networked Learning. The ghost of improvisation and patience radiates form within, based on the Spirit of trust. A team is a group of people who trust each other. Having built common grounds, they start to interact, the sparks fly, the ghosts of improvisation are getting better and better. We know such openness from music, jazz.

Listening to the narrative this way round, the miracle of Pentecost sounds not so farfetched and strange. We have improvised with strange ideas to crochet around the weeks of the course. If done like this, tongues of fire do appear. After every meeting I had a smile on my face, even after a day of distress.

Open education is also about the ghost of electricity.


Original image: Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337), Cappella Scrovegni a Padova, Pentecost (ca. 1305)

2 Replies to “Thoughts about Pentecost spirits”

  1. This post demonstrates an understanding of the ONL process and the transformative learning power of a group that trusts and supports.

  2. Lars Harrysson says: Reply

    I fully agree with David on this one. A true understanding of a learning process set in motion in collaboration.

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