My family and I have recently moved to Milton Keynes in the UK from Boston MA in the States.  I have made such dramatic moves in the past as a child in middle school when my mother decided to move from Seattle, WA to Maui, HI.  I have made the decision on my own to move from Maui, HI back to Seattle, WA.  I maintained a distance relationship with my girlfriend (now wife) when she moved to Connecticut. My wife and I made the decision to move from Seattle, WA to Boston, MA.  Most recently it was a family decision with my wife and our two kids to move to Milton Keynes, in the UK from Boston.

me9yeh_sjs5It is not surprising for me to find that one of the Latin roots for Emotion is Movere which means “to move”.  Today I find myself simultaneously researching the role that emotions play in learning while learning in a very emotional landscape.  In looking back I think that it is common for dramatic emotional landscapes to contribute to my learning.


Upcountry Maui looking west toward West Maui and Lanai By Daniel Kane (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
On Maui during my senior year in high school most students had a free period for the purposes of studying.  For me, I was kindly asked to spend my free time in the headmasters office so that he could see me working.  Beyond spending my free period in the headmasters office, the common punishment for students was to go to school on Saturday for work duty. A student could make amends for their behavior by doing some form of campus maintenance.  It was common for me to spend my Saturdays on campus doing tasks such as raking leaves or washing vans.  In fact, I even recall one occasion where I showed up for work duty when I had surprisingly done nothing wrong that week.  I had grown so used to this schedule that I just assumed that I should make amends for something.

Steven Pavlov [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
 When moving to Seattle it was to gain focus and career in the form of software development at a small start-up company.  It was in this time that I had to genuinely self-regulate my own learning.  I spent the summer in the basement of my grandparents house in preparation for this change. I would commonly work through the night into the early morning  learning the basics of computer programming.  The next morning I would walk to Alki and make coffee all day and return to the computer at night.  Drinking coffee and computer programming has always gone hand in hand.

After programming for a few years my girlfriend moved to Connecticut to start a masters program.  I could see again that I would have to move forward.  I began to catch up to her education level by spending 6 years completing a 4 year degree.  She had reluctantly moved back to Seattle after her masters program and as soon as I completed my undergraduate degree we began to plan a move together.  This led us to Boston MA.

Longfellow Hall By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

In Boston I felt activated.  The pace of life in that city was more aggressive than either Seattle or Maui and I can best describe my time there as demanding.  I did a 9 month masters program which was at times frantic.  During that time I found myself in an emotionally driven argument with one of my teachers in the course discussion board.  I could see my high school self in this argument and cherished that younger brasher me.  While my argument lacked cohesion and felt immature there was a genuine component to it in my emotions.  This led to working for this teacher for the next 4 years at CAST  researching Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  In fact, this argument may be a building block in my research question about the trace of student emotions in online discussion data.

Jennie Lee Building at The Open University By Garron Hillaire

It was time to focus my learning again and this time the move was out of the United States and over to the UK.  If you have ever moved a family you would know that this activates your emotional landscape.  Your sense of self comes into a reflective space as you experience the change from the perspectives of your whole family.  At a time where I must achieve the pinnacle of my formal education I am surrounded by a complex landscape of emotions that is hard to describe adequately with words.  Somehow this is familiar territory for me and I am perhaps best prepared to succeed in this type of environment.  It is exciting to be a part of the Open World Learning research project.  I am even more pleased that I will be researching self-regulation using emotion and cognition analytics.









Author: garronhillaire

I am curious about learning with eye toward the role of technology

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