Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Turkle & Wesch

Before I dig into my reflection of Wesch (video and article) & Turkle (article), I need to get their arguments straight:

Wesch argues that education is is irrelevant to today's learners. Students are trying to find significance in their education which seems to them shallow and irrelevant. Wesch wants teachers to flip our thinking, focusing on the quality of learning as oppose to the quality of teaching. Wesch argues that teaching & learning won't go away anytime soon, so both teachers and learners need to use it better.

Turkle argues that young people today are turning to technology for companionship instead of people. However, I think that just because Turkle argues for conversation doesn't mean she is against technology. She knows technology won't go away so we must learn to use it better.... not as a replacement for companionship and the messy communication that is part of the joy of face to face communication.

I can understand Turkle's argument. I think people prefer to turn to technology for advice & companionship because, as Turkle says, we can edit, delete and reread our message in technology. Face to face communication is risky & vulerable.

In fact, just the other day, I blurted out, "Oh, your baby is so cute. Where did his ears come from? Neither Jason nor Kelly have big ears?!?" Maybe if I had posted that on Facebook I could have read my words first and edited them appropriately to be more complimentary & polite. But in face to face communication - that was it. We laughed, my friends (the parents) chuckled slightly in dismay. I know I was saying what everyone was thinking (I was, really... the baby's ears are adorably big for a 7 week old), but it was messy, risky and, in a way, joyful.

Are Wesch & Turkle allies or opponents? I'm not sure and I'd love to witness them sitting down to a cup of coffee and seeing how their two ideas could fit hand in hand. These are some ways that I see their ideas coordinating.

Wesch talks about education. He says the majority of the time teachers are talking at students and typically teachers are not listening or tending to the needs of students (and from his video, students are also not listening to teachers either). Therefore, in learning, no critical thinking is asked of the learners.

Turkle talks about communication & companionship. He says the majority of the time young people are talking to someone while spending little time listening or tending to relationships. Therefore, to express one's feelings, no critical thinking or response is asked of whomever is listening.

In both cases, information is put out to the world (students or social media) and the world can choose to or not to respond. In both cases, often the case, the majority of the world chooses not to respond or act critically. I think both Wesch & Turkle would agree that the world doesn't respond because A) it's risky (students might not get a good grade, participants in an intimate online conversation might offend), B) it's not easy (for both students and conversation participants - they are being asked to use their brain and sweat a little).

I can understand the passive approach young people can choose these days - in learning and personal relationships. I can even relate to the high school sophomore who wishes he could talk to aliens for dating advice instead of his father. You put yourself in a vulnerable position when you think critically (school) or respond critically (personal relationships).

For years, when people shared with me intimate, vulnerable, messy details of their lives, I would respond, "Oh, that's sad" or something semi-shallow. But in those few instances where someone truly actively & critically listened to me and responded in a meaningful way, in & out of the classroom - I noticed and tried to copy.

What did this person do that truly made me feel connected & understood? First, they dropped everything and turned all of their attention to me. Second, as I described my situation they really tried to get in my head and understand the full scenario. Third, their response wasn't canned nor perfect but straight from the heart and/or brain.

I think both Wesch & Turkle would agree that in the educational setting that Wesch describes and in the tech-companionship trend that Turkle describes - those three things just mentioned, aren't happening. Often times, positive critical teaching, learning and companionship aren't even "modeled" so young people can say, "Hey, I liked how ---- did that, I will try to do that next time." Instead, learning and companionship are left canned and shallow. I think we can do better than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment