I recently wrote that the eportfolio is like a house, or more accurately, a home. A private place to mooch quietly among the piles of projects, to sort, to reflect, to spend time with yourself:
The eportfolio has interiority, a ‘space’ to be in. Inside, it is like having the house to yourself, where you might wander through the rooms, at home with yourself and your story, simply enjoying the small piles of your projects-in-motion in each room. Each thing, each pile, and each room tells a story about you – what is meaningful to you, who you are. The eportfolio feels like this – a quiet space where you might be at home with what matters to you, in whatever jumbled-up or ordered way you choose; for being quietly yourself.
But I have come to realise that as I move about my house I am aware of three distinct and useful gazes: myself, selected respected peers, and what I am calling ‘soul’. Somewhat counter-intuitively, instead of acting to censor me, I find that I need these gazes to do my portfolio work.
Gaze one: myself
This is the ‘gaze’ of me upon me. In the privacy of my home I can see myself being myself, thrown into existential relief by the space I inhabit, experiencing what Gaston Bachelard calls a kind of intimate immensity. Wandering thriugh the rooms, I see myself wandering. To what do I attend? So it is with the eportfolio: I see myself as I decide what to include, and how I represent myself; each action that I take when I create or tweak or bundle a page says ‘yes, that’s me to a tee’. If it’s not, I don’t do it. And as I shift in always-becoming, I gaze again into the eportfolio and I can see myself anew.
Gaze two: selected respected peers
I have given access to some parts of my eportfolio to others – my supervisors and three others whom I have chosen because I want their gaze to be mine. I really – truly – don’t care if they never follow the link I gave them and take a look; what I care about is that they might. I have brought their gaze into my work: I see them seeing me when I write, tweak, add to those pages. I hold myself up to their scrutiny because I respect the way they see things. With their gaze now part of my gaze, my gaze is qualitatively richer and more complex.
Gaze three: ‘soul’
…or whatever you choose to call the soul – but come with me: The gaze that sees both your wholeness and your human frailty; the gaze that cares when we forget to look or when we deliberately look away; the sacred eye that stays open through the night to see you safely home; the human eye that shares a horizon with all people; the eye of the past gazing forwards at you, and the eye of the future gazing back, and the moment of presence as the past and the future meet each other’s gaze in me now.
With the gaze of the soul in mind, my eportfolio-tending is a way to open myself – to myself, to my peers, and to the world. If I catch myself over-labouring the work, or trying too hard to be clever, or caring too much about its reception, this gaze reminds me to be real so we can see each other.
Bachelard, G. (1964). The poetics of space (Vol. 330): Beacon Press.