Archive for July, 2007

I’m A Real School Fool

Recently Steve, my perpetual muse, asked me this question:

“If you were President of the College, how would you create a culture of trust and a community of learners between faculty, staff and students? What are the key issues and questions that would need to be addressed? ”

I gave him a list of a couple suggestions and key issues I thought would need to addressed. While I was typing out this list I had one of those flashes of new understanding that linger on the edges and then pop out of nowhere, often occuring while in the midst of writing. So as my behavior often is when I am in a chatting mode I impetuously wrote out a rant and sent it off to Steve, who doesn’t seem to mind my lack of proofreading too much (thanks Steve!).

So here is the cleaned up version of that sudden a-ha moment I wrote in one shot, late at night. Why I am a real school fool, or, why I think Real School is really awesome:

A thought occurred to me while reading Computer Lib/Dream Machines. The work (and play) I am doing now, the discussions I have been having, could have a real world impact. This has obviously been true for quite some time but, it struck me differently all the sudden. Thinking back on my previous school experiences, I thought about how much of that time was spent performing tests and writing papers that didn’t really matter. The tests and papers required answers in a vacuum and now that I have stepped outside the vacuum, and know there is life outside the vacuum, my actions outside it have a deeper impact. For a long time I have understood school as such: A poor grade reflected on my inability to remember an equation in math (or whatever), that didn’t mean much to me in the first place. The poor grade only affected me in my own bubble and ultimately determined whether I would go and where I would go to college, which, is the real goal of making it through grades k-12 (apparently). On the other side of this you’ve got real school. In real school not participating has real world consequences, what happens in real school effects real life, real school is real life. Problems are no longer discussed in a vacuum but, cut across subjects and time. Why shouldn’t these things connect? Aren’t subjects just human creations designed to organize ideas? Of course, more often than not in school, ideas end up being placed in a various subject-sealed containers. I cannot think of anything more exciting than the world no longer being about me but, about others! In real school students are freed from being the centers of their own universes and no longer have to have to hold everything together themselves. Participation in real school is not just for my own benefit of learning but, for others too. To share and connect, to journey on the caravan together, earth is a school. 545419366_d07e46e7a21.jpg

Originally uploaded by staylor336.

Transistions and Change

The transition from high school to college is complex enough and recently I’ve been wondering if technology has made it easier or harder. I don’t have much analysis on the matter because it is more a problem I have been dealing with and have felt more acutely since being home. College has long been regarded as a time where you can start over and find out who you are but, how easy is it in this very connected world? In this transitional time where society is becoming more and more dependent on the technologies that make us connected is my generations college experience (or our lives for that matter) setting a new precedent?

For instance, cellphones keep you connected at all times and even screening calls is a little more difficult because people know you can see their missed calls. People even get upset if you are the type of person that keeps your cellphone off regularly (I used to be this type of person) because not being able to contact someone at every moment is just horrible, right? I’m not trying to put down connectivity because I have been enjoying the benefits of applications like Twitter ever since the Faculty Academy but, I’m wondering how do we go about disconnecting from certain things? Isn’t there a time when we need to move on or readjust our connections?

Perhaps I feel my worlds (yes worlds) are colliding (or will soon be) and I don’t know if I should put up boundaries or just let it be. Most of my family knows I blog but, I am still reluctant to give those who ask the URL. I can think of some family members I wouldn’t mind sharing it with but, others I rather not see it. The same thing goes for friends from high school and friends from college. My blog is out there though, isn’t it? I don’t make posts private and I really don’t talk about embarrassing personal stories that I wouldn’t want my mom to know but, I can’t help feel that there needs to be a separation. In an attempt to try to sort out who I am my thoughts often end up being showcased on my blog. A simple solution would be not to blog about it or limit it but, I don’t think I could really consider that option. Maybe I feel like I am under a microscope of sorts and because my generation spends countless hours on Facebook following people I fear if I shared my blog with peers I would be subject to that same watchful eye, especially since there aren’t many student bloggers. Maybe it is my fear of being known or maybe I just care too much about what others might think?

Today I googled my name and on the first page there was multiple links connecting people to me. It is becoming easier to find me and things I have said.


One of my friends recently left a post on my wall on Facebook and told me while doing a google search she found my blog.

Am I really afraid to fail and “fail gloriously”? Yes. Years of being subtly told failure is to be avoided and making a mistake is a sign of sloppiness, stupidity, or apathy. I’m struggling because I’m not sure I am really ok with making a mistake. When people are more likely to ask me what my GPA is than what I learned I cannot help but feeling failure needs to be avoided. People will try to put learning from mistakes in a shiny light but, more often it feels like it would have been better to have avoided making the mistake in the first place.

Here I am though, sharing this with the whole world. Although while I am writing this I am thinking about the people who read my blog and comment, more than I am imagining everyone on the web. A wise friend recently said to me it is “…interesting how the audience can call something out of us. We know that at least a few trusted readers will read it. Later we learn that many other folks will also love it–but it’s the trusted circle that calls it forth”. I think that is one of the reasons I continue to share and put this out there, it is these people who I can trust to respond with something meaningful to say. If I fail in front of these people I need not fear being ridiculed, these people embrace “making a mess”.

My life is the editing stages, preparing for a major mashup of my past and present lives. As my online life becomes more transparent and as I plan to purposely do this starting this fall (atleast that is what I am telling myself) I have come back to idea of connections. It is clear that not all connections are equal, some are more valued than others. So as I deal with feelings of anxiety and worry about how well things will come together I have to remember to take a deep breath. I am starting to realize I am not enslaved by these connections, in fact I may very well be in charge of these connections. This may just be a matter of asserting myself and taking risks but, that is an issue for another blog post.

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