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On reading again (from my Feeling Learning and Reading blog)

February 23, 2010

I was feeling a little out of sorts this morning and stayed in bed. Officially, the EVO-TESOL courses finished on Sunday, but of course our minds don’t stop there -nor have the meeting places disappeared.

And so, just like yesterday I was finally able to read a whole article from the Financial Times and a blog post response to it and a blog post on who made the best ESP teachers -professionals gone into teaching or teachers going into specialisation (I’m being reductionist here, the post went deeper than that) as well as a printed column by J.L. de Diego on cynicism…Just like yesterday I was able to read all that (something I hadn’t been able to do on the past 6 weeks because I was more focused on doing things and then reflecting rather than on reading or listening to reflections and opinions and processing them) -today, it seems, I was ready to start reading the Keen vs Weinberger text debate from the online version of the Wall Street Journal (July 18, 2007) my fellow participants on the Multiliteracies course have been discussing these weeks.

I only got to page two before I wanted to come and write about it, which (I think) already says something about human nature.

So far Keen has explained his position -the topic being Web 2.0, and Weinberger has started to respond. Keen’s argument seems to be taking an “either / or approach” so far: “Is Web 2.0 a dream or a nightmare?” “Is it a remix of Disney’s Cinderella or of Kafka’s Metamorphosis?” -I finally understood what “flattened” comes to mean in a context like this.

Keen reminds us that there are arguments of great democratization in relation to Web 2.0. So flattened comes to mean “we are all equal in this new stage of the Web” (my emphasis), hence the democratization reference. I’d heard flat, flattened, and other derivations before in similar contexts but had never connected them to equality or democratic forces at work (granted, Keen uses it in a somewhat ironic way in my opinion, but that doesn’t change the connection I’ve made in my mind).

And yet, if I go back to my childhood, I realize I should have connected it at once: I recall a local (Argentine) comic strip by Quino called Mafalda. Mafalda is a precocious girl interested in political issues (she “lived” in the 60s and or 70s). She has a group of friends and one of them is called Liberty (well, Libertad). Liberty is an advocate of class and social struggle. In one strip she’s explaining to
Mafalda what her own father’s explained to her: that today (I’m quoting and translating rather freely both in language and interpretation, but trying to be true to the original); “Today”, she says as she points to a wall in the street, “we’re like these bricks -one on top of the other, the ones on top pressing on the others. But one day,”she goes on,”we’ll be like this”, and she gestures towards the cobbles on the road, “all at the same level, without anyone above us or oppressing us”.

In the next frame we see a luxurious car drive by.


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  1. Nina Liakos permalink

    LOL, that’s funny. But oh, so true! Your post reminds me of Tom Friedman’s wonderful book, The World Is Flat. It makes (North) Americans nervous to think that the teeming masses around the globe (read: Chinese, Indians, Brazilians…) can compete with us on a level playing field for jobs and resources. We have been so blessed for so long, while everyone else was struggling.<br><br>The thing is that the population of the world has become so large that the question of whether there are enough resources to go around is being posed. Friedman points out that everyone is competing for scarce resources. It’s anyone’s guess how this is going to end up. We certainly cannot envision a future where 6 billion people squander the earth’s natural resources the way we (North) Americans have been doing for the past century. (Ecological lens)

  2. Vance Stevens permalink

    Nice to see the discussion continue. Also interesting to see how your mind works, stimulus, response, reflection, cognition (and then a luxurious car drives by, what next?). I think my mind works in similar fashion. What I say in one sentence carries on with a life of its own. Anyway, Keen and Weinberger are definitely food for thought. I used to wonder why people gave Keen the time of day. But I came to realize they did (even David Weinberger who goes with him on roadshow), and now I ought to read his book, I guess. Still I have no trouble agreeing completely with Weinberger. He’s an author of Cluetrain Manifesto, btw. Google that one!

  3. Beatriz Lupiano permalink

    Many thanks to you both for your comments and apologies for my (very) late reply.<br><br>Nina, thanks for bringing me closer to understanding what the ecological lens is about. Earlier last month, when the course was just beginning, I posted that I couldn’t come to terms with the concept of "multiliteracies" -somehow I knew in which direction it was going, but my guts (which prefer Spanish) were telling me that what my reasoning was telling me was not the whole picture, and I was having trouble with the word in Spanish; <i>multialfabetizaci??n</i> is still too close in my language and my culture to basic reading and writing skills, whereas multiliteracies seems from the very beginning to encompass so much more.<br><br>I think I’ve made some progress with multiliteracies, and watching Pegrum’s second installment on the wiki brought the issue to a less unfamiliar territory fro me when he explains his views on digital literacies (I’ve even started taking notes when I watch videos and talks online in the same way as I do when I attend face to face presentations!). Anyway, I think in my mind ecological is still too closely linked with very specific issues, like pollution, CFC (I think). And from what Nina says (and I have yet to finish Mark’s first chapter but already feel an urge to buy and read the whole book) the ecological lens is indeed connected to resources, but perhaps the perspective adopted is a different one: not so much the means by which the resources are being affected but how that affects and is reflected in the world as a global community and its human inhabitants. I still need to mull over the concept…(since apparently I’m buying Mark’s book, I’ll order Friedman’s as well; it sounds very interesting).<br><br>Participating in the various discussions on the Web in the last few months has awakened in me an interest in education as a whole -EFL seems (feels to me) too isolated, secluded, and I like discussing educational matters with teachers from other fields, countries..I still love teaching English and wouldn’t teach a different subject, but I like to think that my students are whole people and not just language appliances carriers and that they switch their English appliance off when the lesson or the year is finished. Utopian me would like to plan and support students throughout their lives in their various paths and with their various teachers. Perhaps with these discussions we’re contributing to something like that.<br><br>I like to see the discussion continue, too, Vance -and I’m glad you do. Nice to know my mind’s not alone in its workings ๐Ÿ™‚ .I think you describe the process very accurately. The luxurious car takes me to the political arena -one which I’m not sure I’m ready to voice yet.<br><br>I’ve continued reading the Keen-Weinberger debate and agreeing with Weinberg. I think Keen, however, is -out of the pair- the one that makes me stop and think more (so it’s his fault that I haven’t even made it to page 5 yet! ๐Ÿ˜€ . I enjoy discussions and debates -both as a spectator and as a participant.<br><br>The other day someone on an email group said: "well-meaning friends are always asking me what subjects we discuss.And I wanted to scream. We don’t "discuss". We talk about ourselves and share enthusiasms, dislikes and opinions" -another group member replied "Whenever I see the D-word (…) I come out in a rash." That led to a long thread entitled "Talking, not discussing", which I’m still going through. I felt the world had turned upside down for a moment -in Spanish <i>discutir</i> has a somewhat "fighty-ish" connotation -I always thought the equivalent to that in English was more argue than discuss. That said, both in Spanish and in English (the languages I interact in) I find it hard (though less so these days) to get into true discussions where people say what they think -politely, but without cottonballs or unnecessary niceties. Keen and Weinberger debate and discuss their ideas and I don’t see any bad blood in the text at least.<br><br>This already seems like another post rather than a reply!! Thanks again for reading my post and commenting -and I’ll Google Cluetrain Manifesto! (See you on Sunday if I manage to wake up -I’m not much of a morning person, but the chat’s worth the effort ๐Ÿ™‚ !)

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