This afternoon, Mary Ann and WIll were talking a bit about Kindergarten standards. I butted in.1
And Mary Ann and I, and some others, worked our way into a
conversation back and forth talking at one another chat about a post of Mary Ann’s. You should read the post2. As I read it, I was struck by the notion of connectedness – and the implication that it was about online. Now, the Gee concept she references3, and I’m about to requote, does state that:
An affinity space is a place where informal learning takes place. According to James Paul Gee, affinity spaces are locations (physical or virtual) where groups of people are drawn together because they share a particular common, strong interest or are engaged in a common activity. Often but not always occurring online, affinity spaces encourage the sharing knowledge or participating in a specific area, but informal learning is another outcome.
But even though these spaces don’t have to be online, I got the sense from the post that the online-ness of connected children’s experiences might be the unique thing.
And I want to push back on the assumption that connected of today is somehow significantly different than the connected of yesterday. Just as I wonder about the importance of the Internet in the notion of connective writing, so, too, would I wonder about the necessity of the Internet for the creation of the modern connected child.
That’s not to say that it’s not a factor, that speed and access are not better than they’ve ever been4. But I want to push against the idea that they’re new. That wanting to know what’s going on somewhere else as quickly as possible is a trait of only the 21st Century. That seeking an audience for one’s efforts is a notion of those of us born after 1985. That being in conversation with someone from a different place didn’t happen prior to Skype.
Easier? Perhaps. Likely, even. Faster? Often. But new?
I don’t think so5. And when I say that I wonder about connectivity, or connectedness, this is what I’m talking about. Certainly important. I want my children, and their schools, to be about connectedness through the tools of today. But what makes them differently different than all the children that’ve come before?
But I’m not so sure that’s new6.
- That’s one thing Twitter’s good for – having open conversation – both so that you can model what that might look like as well as allow folks to intrude. And, yeah. I know I just wrote this. And am now praising Twitter. It’s a contradictory night. [↩]
- And most of what she writes. She’s wise. [↩]
- By way of Wikipedia [↩]
- Too many nots there – of course it’s faster and better than ever. But that’s mostly been the case for the last several hundred years. [↩]
- I may well be wrong. I argue with myself about it. Frequently. [↩]
- I’m grateful for Pam Moran’s gentle suggestion that I should pause to write this up. She was right. [↩]