Connective Children. Nothing New?

This afternoon, Mary Ann and WIll were talking a bit about Kindergarten standards.  I butted in. ((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 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 post ((And most of what she writes.  She’s wise.)).  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 references ((By way of Wikipedia)), 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 , 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 been ((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.)).  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 so ((I may well be wrong.  I argue with myself about it.  Frequently.)).  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 new ((I’m grateful for Pam Moran’s gentle suggestion that I should pause to write this up.  She was right.)).

5 thoughts on “Connective Children. Nothing New?

  1. Mary ann Reilly says:

    I still think we are in a very new time, unprecedented, unmapped in the most fundamental ways and schools are largely lodged in another time, even when their teachers and students are not. The institution remains largely unchanged. So how do I see this new connected child as different? I cannot recall any time in my youth when this very common scenario for some connected children ( not teens) might happen:

    A child from London, Philadelphia, New York City, Moscow, and Toronto are all accessing the same server to participate in building a world they are defining. To do this, they are taking aspects of the worlds they reside in literally and transcribing these into artifacts for their new world. They are talking about governance, religion, war and peace, commerce and trading, architecture. They are borrowing from one another and morphing ideas so quickly that the thinking becomes nomadic. They are rhizomatic –inifinite middles thought which known and unknown things move.

    Such a scenario, common in my home with my preteen has not been possible at such scale and geography before. Further, the technology that allows for world building is visually sophisticated again in ways that only those who had studied and worked in certain visual-based industries were permitted. All of this has changed and with it our children.

    My intention in my post was to ask how ready we are and how ready are our institutions?

    I think this is very new. The connectivity is unheralded and brings along with it choices about how young people learn and choose to learn. Agency is palpable. The institution we call school isn’t keeping up, even when many of it’s teachers may well be. I do wonder who will be selecting school as we now know it a decade from now.

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