Reaction to Jonathan Safran Foer’s essay “How Not To Be Alone”

Almost mid-way through the Educational Technology course (the impetus for this blog, but not necessarily the reason for its continuation), I wrote a post about my idealized future classroom as I had imagined it before undertaking studies at Nazareth College. The technologies and the attendant uses of and ideas related to technology as a learning tool that we explored in the Ed Tech course were a sea-change for me and I consequently reimagined my ideal future classroom.

For my current coursework, we were asked to read Jonathan Safran Foer’s How Not To Be Alone and I was – and still am – moved by the author’s words (both reflected in the ideas behind the words and his prose). I’ll not vitiate either Foer’s ideas or words with my own, but merely direct you to the article. Read it. The read it again, slowly. It’s about balance, about our shared humanity and remaining human, and about the place of emotions and connection in our digitally technological world; and it’s an important read.

The Mold That We Settle In: A Pre-localised Light-wave Borrowing One's Personal Aether (The Lamb-white'ss', entering ititself through eye-lid Portals)


Media (Ir)responsibility?

With the sad news coming out of Boston yesterday and ensuing the activity on social media, I couldn’t help thinking about OUR role as ‘consumers’ of media. I found two posts in social media sites, this one by Patton Oswald on Upworthy and this one by Erika Napoletano. Mr. Oswald’s short piece is a ‘love letter’ to the people of Boston and, in a broader sense, to all of us around the world. Ms. Napoletano has written a very well-crafted and heart-felt open letter to the media in the wake of the events in Boston, but which speaks to our our responsibilities as media consumers and to equalizing power differentials.

I reference both here as a reminder that social media – and in the broader sense, Media – can be an inspiring outlet. WE chose what we post, how we use the media available to us. Regarding the ‘Media’, they have no audience if we chose not to participate in exploitation and sensationalism  Sure, it might take some time for Media to catch on, but I’d hazard a guess that it wouldn’t take that long if the bottom line were effected. It saddens me to read/see/hear hand-wringing, dire lamentations of “Oh, the media. They’re horrible!” or “Oh, look at how the Interent has changed society – such a shame!” We continue to refuse to see that WE are responsible for what we read or see or hear or listen to or write or post or share. If we don’t like what we see, and do nothing but shake our heads, tsk-tsking, are we not as culpable?

In the final analysis, I believe that we should finally admit that nothing is done TO us; that we have the power, collectively, to bring about what we desire if we have the courage and willingness to work for those outcomes. We are and remain sheep, until we realize that we are not.

war is freedom

The Image of Beauty

I don’t know how I found the video/ advertisement shared below. I am, however, thankful for the path that led me to it. My wife and I do not have any children of our own. But as I think to the future, to the classroom I’ll be in and the scores of children that I’ll share time with learning and exploring and laughing, I cannot help think about how we all help (or hurt) each other develop our self-perceptions, how we can inadvertently reinforce negative self-mages, and how a hundred kind words can all too often be undermined by a single unthinking, hurtful one.

So this is a call to my friends, my student-teacher colleagues, educators, administrators, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, anyone who has taken the time to read this post: let’s re-examine our notions of beauty, let’s redefine the word, the idea so that it better reflects what we know to be the truth, so that when our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews, our sisters and brothers, our mothers and fathers, and even when we ourselves look into the mirror, we see the beauty.

Interactive map: water consumption

In the course of putting together a mock unit on the water cycle and water use/conservation for one of my graduate courses, I found this interactive Flash-based map. It was created by two graduate students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Joseph Bergen and Nicki Huang. Without dissecting the data presented, I think this would be a great resource in the classroom that could be used to compare domestic, agricultural, and industrial water use. The map is interactive, allowing students to compare countries of their choosing, simply by hovering over the selected countries. I understand that some schools/districts restrict online access in the classrooms, and this serves as merely one example of a resource that would go unused if that were the case. In my opinion, it would be shame not to be able to use a resource like this….