Sunday, February 06, 2011

On Connections and Vulnerability

Last week I came accross this post with a TED Talk video by Dr Brené Brown. The talk is really a good way of spending 20 minutes of your time. Jabiz Raisdana got inspired (although I wonder when he is *not* inspired) and created a mashup with the sound of Brené's voice.

This is my response to his post.

I saw the video a few days ago and it still haunts me. I really like how her research and passion for it made her come to a crossroads in her life: the need to take a good look inside yourself before you attempt to make sense of the world. I think that is what we all do when our jobs are more than a means to make a living. For me, teaching is the viewpoint to grow in my life. It's the car I've chosen to do my journey.

But I digress from your post. Back to connections.

I've been thinking that sometimes the passion that makes us share has a blinding force as well. I think we are online to obtain not a just a connection, but its so desired effect. It's as if connections were a means to something, which is so difficult to describe and so distinctly personal that, for simplicity's sake, let's call it connection, or openness or sharing. I think those words are the underpinning grammar of learning magic.

The mash-up you made is like an entry to your mind making connections. It's so much more than "yeah, I love the talk". As I listened, I felt as if you had heard another TED talk. I was wondering if you had picked up the same traces that made me like it. Probably not. However, you left towards the end the line that sums it all up for me: 'our imperfections make us beautiful'.

We cannot take for granted that we all mean the same by sharing and being open. I think that most of us who have edublogs have the shared experience of not having had these dialogues so fluently or frequently in our f2f contexts. Finding interlocutors is the only way to grow, so here we are making connections, which are crucial to our learning. As much as it still surprises me that here I am in Buenos Aires talking to you -who must be sleeping- in Jakarta, I'd like go past the being wowed to move on to the topic of genuine connections.

I'm quite sure I don't get sharing and remixing the way you do. I don't think I would feel inclined to try to produce something like this in future. And you know what? It's not necessary. I'm here because somewhere in a stream of tweeted and blogged thoughts I felt quite at home in what you say. That prior connection makes me curious and willing to understand where you come from to mashup like this. I don't intend to find similarities. I'm not scared we may disagree either.

I think that many bloggers try to find sameness and then get their sensibilities tied up in offence. But validation seeking, though necessary, doesn't make us grow. That's not what openness looks like to me. I think we need to connect to go beyond the hype, the passion and look for something more profound. It's easy to pick up the jargon, the talk of technology in education and blog it out loud. We need to have the skill to tell the validation seekers from the genuine sharers. There are many more blogs today, but it's still hard to collect many more examples and models, let alone new meaningful connections.

I still read and comment in the same blogs. Writing hasn't become any easier for me. I spend a long, long time to produce a post. My teaching, what I do in class, has probably not changed that much outwordly, but it feels different for me and I see its effectiveness when my students get that discovery look in their eyes. How can that be assessed?

Vulnerability is not something I'm good at. Hence the many drafts posts I've written that have never seen the light. Sometimes I feel I cannot express it clearly, sometimes I don't know if, by passionately disagreeing, I disappoint people in my closer circle of connections who may have taken for granted my views. The point is that when I sense we can share enough core values, I need to disagree with you. Not in a reactive way, mind you, I think it's part of identity building.

You see, I reread this and I don't think it makes any sense. And if it did, again, it's so easy to misunderstand. It's (oh) so difficult to know another person. It's so tempting to assume we have found likeminds. It's scarily normal to close doors when we find differences. Yet I think that what we do with all those differences in the middle of so much shared ground is the learning that matters most.

A few lines from John Donne come to mind now,

"Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat."

If we could remain calm when the truth as expressed by our online friends does not match our illusions. If we could embrace the differences and strengthen the connection from there -without any need to call it literacy or hasten to shout that technology enabled it. Maybe we can leave technology in the back seat and drive ourselves with the self-reliance that empowers us to judge a sour face exhibiting little understanding and go for it anyway.

Thank you for triggering this Jabiz.

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