Sunday, July 13, 2008

From the periphery

I’ve spent much of my life on the periphery. That’s not to say there’s been any lack of passion. On the contrary, I’ve always harbored deep passions for living, for loving, for learning, for teaching—almost always on the periphery, throughout high school, college, an extraordinary 35 years in the classroom, and now in the blogosphere. And it’s certainly not been on the sidelines, but on the periphery often by choice, deep seated beliefs guiding my path.

This path on the outskirts affords unique perspectives—often captured by embracing opportunities to step back, contemplate, consider— and most importantly listen, seeking to understand. Recently reading twitter, backchannels, and blogs --seeking to understand learning from NECC and from others --and sensing a competition, a drive to be first to be there, a need for incessant busyness, a clamoring to be in the “conversation” --that precludes seeking to understand, making connections and deepening thinking. Seemingly lacking reflection, lacking focus on improved learning for youngsters, and sometimes lacking graciousness and civility, I wonder where these were lost and why. I wonder what’s happened to listening – and how that erodes the potential for so many possibilities?

Can’t careful, active listening lead to deep understanding and learning? And doesn’t that listening require some silence as ideas and thoughts are processed? Even though it’s hard work (it is for me), aren’t the benefits worth all the effort? What might happen for all learners, if we listened, if we carefully sought to understand-- What possibilities arise with such dialogue? Down what path might we travel?

Just some thoughts, from the periphery--

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