Local and Global, and Freire

Briefly on global learners-

I think that globalism does not serve people as well as localism. While many other students of this generation have traveled far and wide, I believe I know more about myself and the world around me from a focus on where I come from (and possibly where I belong).

In the past years I’ve found that every time when I travel home I discover something new about the place in western North Carolina that has been good to my people. In the digital age, folks even go around taking pictures like this one of graves:

There’s a lot to discover in this simple town

That’s my great great great grandfather, James Elbert Hughes, who only married his wife after her first husband (and first cousin!) died during the Civil War. What if he hadn’t passed from disease in that tragic time for our country?

My existence is predicated by theirs, and they were local people. This grave is only miles from the house I’m increasingly calling “where my parents live” and the hospital where many Hughes men and women, including myself, entered the world.

To situate myself in a global world, this local history is fundamental. Why go abroad when there is so much to learn here?

Re: Freire’s Banking metaphor-

I think my guiding epistemology avoids this type of pedagogy. As a student of rhetoric, I don’t believe in a rational Truth that can be discovered by scientific means. Therefore, professors don’t have the ability to know the Truth and “deposit” this into the “empty” minds of learners, because there is no Truth!

With a social constructivist pedagogy, students are given more agency in the process of discovering what little we can about the human condition and reality.

Global people- what ever happened to setting down roots?

This week I read a collection of readings on diversity in higher ed and creating global citizens.

Planet Earth

This got me thinking about some of the people I know who have traveled abroad or interacted with international students more than I have. Certainly they have more experience, but I don’t know if I would say they have a stronger ability to think globally.

Thinking globally and “diversely” has its own challenges as well. I had a good friend who was undecided about the issue of gay marriage, and when I proposed that we should tolerate all beliefs and lifestyles, he decided by that logic I should in turn accept the intolerance of others. How do these principles of tolerating others beliefs deal with those populations who have hatred toward other groups inscribed in their lifestyles?

I think a good bit of the discussion comes down to respect. In the small town where I grew up, we were not able to learn tolerance because we were all about the same: white, baptist, and middle class. But we did learn respect, and I think that when I got out into the world that value mattered the most. I may not agree with how everyone goes about their business, but I respect the great work I see from people of various races, religions, and sexual orientations on a daily basis.

Does this mean I disagree with affirmative action? Not really, because I understand the difficulties of that position as described in the text. Those aren’t decisions I want to make: how people shape policies that in-turn shape society. I’m pleased with how things are working out currently, so those folks must be doing something right.

Week 4

Re: Papert’s “Yearners and Schoolers”

Again I see an unhealthy amount of focus on technology in our reading. Papert almost describes a space between the young girl interested in giraffes sleeping and the actual safari animals’ habits.

Communications technologies are able to bridge this gap, but not fully. What Papert fails to describe is the limited ability of communications to convey the truth to students. The idea of framing comes to mind, and can be used to describe a false truth of reality that video shows impressionable minds. Language also suffers from this problem, but does not hide its inadequacies like videos do.

I keep coming back to this notion: if we aren’t enough without technology, we’ll never be enough with it.

Re: Weimer’s “The Balance of Power”

When Weimer is discussing the iron clad syllabuses of various instructors I understand his reasoning. However, even as a new teacher with little power over my course design I have seen numerous instances where students missed an assignment or responsibility. These students become enraged when they aren’t allowed to turn assignments in late or make up what they missed in class. From a practical standpoint, there isn’t enough time for teaching assistants and professors to accommodate all students’ errors. The syllabus, which I consider to be a contract for the course, creates objective rules with which to consider all students’ work. It is for me a defense against students who want me to cut them some slack or think I don’t have much authority as a GTA.

I fully believe in establishing rules which don’t only govern the students, but the course instructors as well. How about this idea: If students miss assignments or make mistakes, to go without penalty would be detrimental to their education.

Technology as education

One part of the PBS video that stuck out to me was the mention of augmented reality: 

This type of technology has huge implications for our understanding of the world around us. Commonly seen in smartphone apps that automatically plot the constellations on the night sky, there are many other uses for augmented reality, some which I don’t think we have fully taken advantage of.

As for the overarching theme of technology in education, I think it only makes sense that learning institutions should follow the trends set by society. Computer use in the classroom is often complained about by educators, but Socrates complained about the negative effects of writing on students’ ability to learn.

I agree with many teachers about computers in the classroom, and to some degree with Socrates. If all of these methods are distinct learning aids, what are we without them? Could we still function without the constant technological tethering or the need to record concepts? Augmented reality is an innovative new aid, but only enhances that which we already know.

 

Return

I remember blogging about 8 years ago when I was 15. There was a girl who put every single thought she had online for the world to see. Of course, I felt the need to do the same, at times in a fit of passive-aggression.

Long displaced from that place, and that infatuation, this course is now asking me to start back up the old practice. It is a method of sharing that I will always conflate with teenage angst and screaming forbidden curse words into the digital night. The truth was, no one was listening but me and a few close friends, who already knew everything I had to write.

Communication scholars often argue if it is possible to communicate with yourself. Personally, I don’t believe in intrapersonal communication. I think blogs encourage thought and a release of all the things we keep inside all day long. It is an online journal, and the fact of the matter is: not everyone prefers to keep a diary, or share theirs with the world.

As a scholar, I would like to look further at the way writing blogs affects the self-confidence of writers, who in this digital age are able to publish their thoughts online around the world with a simple click. Even in writing this, I feel empowered with the idea that these thoughts are recorded and therefore more valuable than those we merely speak.

Sure there is merit in making your ideas known. As academics we work long nights for the opportunity to present at a conference or have an article published in a disciplinary journal. But there is a difference between these media and a blog post: quality control. Sometimes silence may serve us better in our pursuit of knowledge than blabbing (or blogging) on about nearly nothing. And to disagree with this notion may in fact just confirm the point.