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Trying To Keep Pace

I am finding blogging a challenging activity. Some of this is the nature of who I am. It is essential, and part of who I am, to take time, reflect, and be accurate. I read blogs where it is basically grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. be damned. As a result, ideas become incoherent and sound semi-literate. If my message is important, should I not take the time to make it complete?

I attended a recent presentation by Dr. Sherry Turkle of MIT. Dr. Turkle, a psychologist, works in the computer science department and has studied the impact of technology, including AI and social media, on people.

It was intriguing to hear about the impact of social media on children and adults alike. In our world, technology is pervasive and invasive; therefore purpose is critical, without stripping us of identity. She raised an interesting point about our identity beginning with the debate about cursive writing which has arisen. With the ability to sign our names electronically do we need to be able to sign it the ‘old-fashioned way’? She suggested the debate is complex as it ties into who we are moving it beyond the use of calculators, as a result. Signatures are part of our identify. As a child, I was excited to learn to write my name. Today, students marvel over the scrawl I use. It leads to a story about my hands. It creates a space for them to enter. This sacred space also serves a space we can to be in relation with our self. Here, we can be alone to reflect and gather to learn who we are.

The ubiquity of technology presents a need for a mindfulness that, as I interpret Dr. Turkle, may be slipping away. This is no mean challenge. As a family, we have had computer technology of various forms in our house for over a 1/4 Century. Our first laptop was made by Texas Instruments; really! As a late-blossoming academic, I returned to university as an adult three times. Without the use of ever-increasing technology, I am not sure how successful I would have been. I recognize the value it is has added to my life, my learning, and my recreation, but I have always been wary of the way it can take firm hold of lives and isolate the self from each other. Now, I am open to the idea it can also serve to isolate me from my self.

Think about the most rewarding relationships in your life. They are based on honest commitment only accessed by open communication. This begins with us individually speaking to our self; from our heart. Thirty-five years of marriage and three grown children inform me that this is no simple task. Twenty years of being in classrooms has affirmed this for me. To build a relationship successfully, means to be vulnerable and be prepared to be real first to our self and, then, to others who are important to us. Technology cannot be a place to hide or distort our self.

As I reflected on Dr. Turkle’s message, I realized how easy it is to hide in plain sight. Educators have a wonderful opportunity to model for children; to be exemplars in the use of technology. When I read blog entries filled with errors, missing words, and incomplete messaging, I can only wonder if this is the model we wish to present for children and other adults. This takes me full circle. I need to be true to my self to be true to those I want to read my blogs.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

4 responses »

  1. Thanks for your post Ivon. I am curious about this statement:

    “Educators have a wonderful opportunity to model for children; to be exemplars in the use of technology. When I read blog entries filled with errors, missing words, and incomplete messaging, I can only wonder if this is the model we wish to present for children and other adults. This takes me full circle. I need to be true to my self to be true to those I want to read my blogs.”

    As someone who blogs quite a bit, I know that I have made mistakes in my writing, but that also shows that I am willing to put myself out there and that I am not perfect in what I do. If it was riddled with mistakes, that would be another issue, but when we show that we are willing to put ourselves out there and take a few risks and show our imperfections, does not that also model something for our students? I think that, as you speak to in this post, we do not want to lose our identity with the use of technology, but all of us our imperfect . Having a perfectly polished product is not who many of us are, and I think blogging, it is not only about sharing a message, but also learning through the process, and learning is often messy. Mistakes are always a part of the process in learning.

    I would love your thoughts on this.

    Reply
    • I think mistakes are inevitable. As I read back through my post, I found several. I see each of us at different places in our personal arcs of learning. Some of us, me included, will find it more challenging to separate the medium, the message, and the delivery. I find them still very intertwined and think I am refining two crafts simultaneously in a public forum: reflective writing and the use of blogs. I think of myself as teacher/learner here and find those two roles difficult to separate, as well.

      Parker Palmer (2007) suggested “teaching is always done at the dangerous intersection of private and public life.” Our choice to blog suggests we have created a greater sense of vulnerability in this exercise. It influences our personal learning arcs as a result.

      Reply
  2. If we don’t make mistakes we are not learning! Better to be invovled in the communication using technology thanh to be so scared of making mistakes so as to not use it. Obviously, we should be an example to students to ensuyre our contributions are polished and professional. On occasions, teachers will make mistakes like others.

    Reply
  3. I agree, but the context of our work and the audience are important to consider. I think it is like wearing a suit. I would not wear one bowling, but might think it more appropriate to wear one to a funeral. Each situation presents a different context and a different set of expectations.

    Blogging represents, to some extent, the suit via our words. We present our self through words. They serve, to some extent, as symbols to represent the person. Teachers will make mistakes. That is the nature of being human. What I think we need to consider is as our comfort grows with the presentation of ideas through a relatively new medium we can model more polished and professional messaging as we move forward. If we are to fully accept the McLuhan notion of the medium being the message, we will have to explore the consequences of each new technology and the stretching of ourselves through the new uses of each . I suspect, in the short term, we will have conversations about what it means to stretch ourselves and what it means to make mistakes and be vulnerable in the global public square. Remember, it is not just our students we are engaging with. What does that mean?

    Reply

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