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OpenLearn Live: 19th August 2015

Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2015

A tree that became a shrine; and then free learning and insight through the day.

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OpenLearn Live explores the links between learning and your world across the day. There's also a Twitter feed @OpenLearnLive.

Yesterday we visited the tree that survived a tsunami, prepared for the final episode of Chinese School, discovered if technology kills jobs and dipped into the Sri Lankan election results.

See the full OpenLearn Live collection


Today's Posts


New on OpenLearn on YouTube: Creativity and language

We're not just here; there's an OpenLearn YouTube channel as well. And freshly arrived over there is this video about how language shapes creativity - and how creative people use language.

Transcript for linked video

For another perspective on creativity: creativity in the workplace


BBC Four, 9pm tonight: Genius of the Ancient World: Confucius

Tonight, Bettany Hughes completes her trilogy of ancient thinkers with an episode focusing on Confucius.

Watch clip: Genius of the Ancient World: Confucius

Find out more about the programme

Rate Confucius on education

Does Confucius offer old ideas for a modern China?


On iPlayer now: Chinese School

Did you miss our series Are Our Kids Tough Enough: Chinese School, which brough Chinese teaching methods to Hampshire to see what happened? Well, maybe you did, and maybe you didn't - the whole series is on iPlayer for the next fortnight, so there's time to catch up.

Watch Chinese School on iPlayer

Find out more about the series


Listen over lunch: High Speed Rail

Today, to bring you something interesting to put in your ear canals over lunchtime, we're recommending UCL's Civil Engineering Podcast, Keep It Civil. We've chosen the most recent episode, on High Speed Rail, but check out the whole archive for a range of programmes on subjects as diverse as engineering against tsunamis and 3D printing.

See the full Keep It Civil archive

Try our free introduction to engineering course


The Virtual Arboretum: The Bolan Tree

This week, our start-up segment is looking at some notable trees. So far, we've visited The Royal Oak and a tree which survived a tsunami. Today, it's a tree that became a shrine.

It's not uncommon to see roadside memorials to people who have died in road accidents. But few reach the scale or longevity of the memorial on the side of the B306, where a tree - and the area around it - has been transformed over four decades into a permanent place of pilgramage.

The Bolan Tree on Barnes Common Creative commons image Icon ratb0y_2021 under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

On September 16th 1977, the musician Marc Bolan was being driven home by his partner Gloria Jones when she lost control of the car. The Mini left the road, crashed through a fence, and came to rest against a sycamore tree. Bolan died instantly; Jones was seriously injured and hospitalised.

The tree quickly became a site of mourning for Bolan's fans. At the time of his death, he was one of the biggest pop stars in the nation and starting to enjoy something of a resurgence, and that would have been enough to guarantee interest in the scene. But an additional layer of myth and myth-making around Bolan's death, and in particular whether he had had premonitions of how he would die added an air of mysticism to the tree. Bolan had never learned to drive, fearing he would die in a car crash; there are claims that he was obsessed by a Magritte painting of a tree title September 16th; lyric books were ransacked and references to trees were recast in the light of the tragedy.

Fans started to pin memorials to the tree, and quickly the trunk started to disappear under the weight of pictures, letters and poems. (This leaving of items at the site of Bolan's death had grom a mirror-image, as other fans broke into his home and stole paperwork and other belongings.) The unofficial memorial, over the years, started to become semi-official, and then a fixture on the street - the Performing Rights Society unveiled a bust under the canopy of the tree; plaques have been added as other members of Bolan's band T-Rex have died.

The tree itself was deemed to be in danger of being felled in 1998; T-Rex fans formed a support group to ensure the tree was as well-cared for as the rest of the site.

In 2007, the what-was-then English Tourism Council recognised the site as a tourist attraction in its own right; a tree which had become a place to visit to feel connected to a personal hero had transformed into a place to visit for itself as much as what it represented.

There is a hugely detailed online history of the Bolan Tree history

Read: How memorial practices avoid the corpse

Watch: memorialisation

 

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