The World Wide Blogosphere

xhan's picture

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides, and my windows to be closed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. We must learn and keep learning, unlock our minds and open, carefully, very carefully, the windows of our understanding.

As important as I consider academics to be as a part of my college experience, I believe that the exposure I had to people of different cultures and ages and the increasing growth and maturity-both mental and intellectual-that resulted was an even more vital part of my education.  Not only did I intermingle with and befriend students from the Midwest, the South, and other parts of the country, I had a chance to meet international students who came from other parts of the world such as Northern India, Europe, and Asia. Each conversation with these people opened my mind a little more to a world lager and more complete than what I had known before and challenged my views-forced me to assess and re-evaluate the views I once held. Despite the sometimes frustrating differences in opinion I encountered, I was continually encouraged by our ability to listen, for the most part, with open and willing minds and address common concerns and issues.

According to Dr. Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of IIE(Institute of International Education): The most critical factor for the success of nations in the new millennium will be a population whose minds are open to the world. When more students are given the chance for meaningful study and opportunities to gain a deeper appreciation for society, there will less hatred and misunderstandings about different values and ways of life". To be an educated citizen today is to be able to see the world through others’ eyes and be able to better respond to the demands of the our society . I believe that we need to use education to advance tolerance and understanding.  Just as no individual is immune to conflict or suffering, no individual can defend oneself alone. We need each other’s support, friendship and partnership. Whether it’s contributing to the training of teachers, engineers, advancing the role of women, the engine for progress is fueled by knowledge. It is only by bridging the knowledge gap, that we can combat exclusion and marginalization and bridge the divide among people of different cultures, religions, socio-economic statuses, races, and genders.

Blogging for Literary Kinds felt both familiar and comfortable-helped boost my confidence in my ability to express my thoughts and thrive on my own-without instruction or constructive criticism from authority figures. It forced me to think and reason for myself-to honestly listen to what people were telling me and take the time to figure out if what they were saying made sense to me.   People have so many opinions and you don’t always know what to take in and who to believe-while I am appreciative of other people’s opinions -I find that I get so caught up in listening to what other people have to say that I start to lose my own voice. I am starting to realize that it is only when I can learn to listen to myself and satisfy my own demands before I can even begin to cater to the needs of others.  Blogging on Serendip demanded that I step away from what I had known in order to experience more fully aspects of literature that were complex and sometimes frustrating to “classify”. I realized that there are so many different “categories” that a certain piece of literature could belong to, and sometimes I just wanted to fool myself, and take the easy way out by not questioning whether a poem was really a poem, or whether Persepolis was a graphic novel or autobiography, and just simply enjoy it for what it was without having to define precisely what it was.  The following are two of my posts for Literary Kinds:

 

I really like that this class seems to support my "original" ideas, yet challenges me to think beyond what im used to. I'm constantly encouraged to expand upon original thoughts, beliefs, and ideas.  I didn't realize the impact of classes such as this, until I received comments from my friends, family, and peers that I had become more "argumentive" and "sassier" than usual. I think this class has helped me become slightly less ignorant and more willing to look for alternate truths and solutions, as well as form new questions than I would have before.

I'm excited for the rest of the semester-I'm really looking forward to reading and discussing novels and films. I'm also glad that there are guest speakers that come to visit once in awhile. They do offer invaluable nsight and spark great discussion. I especially appreciated when two seniors visited our class. It really is a gift when older students advise and instruct younger students. I like that we are constantly generating new information, whether it's receiving feedback "outside" sources, or having an open mind in our daily discussions.

My only suggestion for the future is that, I wish there are more specific requirements for the paper. I like the fact that we are allowed to choose our own topic, but I wish that there would be instructions telling us exactly what we needed to include in the paper. For me, I tend to lose focus failry easily when wiriting papers, and I find it very useful to have specific points that I must include.

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I found myself identifying with Satrapi's character more so when I was watching the movie then when I read the graphic novel. Perhaps this is due to the fact that watching the movie mad the more haunting aspects of the movie more real to me, than in the novel. I really enjoyed watching the movie, because I was able to "put a face with the name"-I was able to see more clearly and vividly what I had read in the novel. Unlike other members of the class, I do not think that this was due to the soundtrack-perhaps this had a subconscious effect but I didn't really think it impacted my perceptions of the movie. Moreover, i do not think the movie "cheapened" the effect for me. Even though it may have been "shortened" and more "condensed" than the novel, it still captured the essence of the novel. I don't believe that a movie has to go into ever aspect of the novel in order for it toe enjoyable. After today's class, I realized that the reason I enjoyed Persepolis the movie more may be attributed to the "holy moment". As we learned in class today, a holy moment is a moment of "pure presence", one you experience "no distance". I cannot pinpoint an exact scene in which I experienced it. I do not know if you can call this a "holy moment", because you did not feel enclosed by a set frame, but I was really moved by the scene in which Satrapi was in the prison with her uncle. Even though I did feel I was in the scene physically, I felt transported in the sense, in that I could relate to Satrapi, emotionally. Even though this was still portrayed in a child-like stance, it was one of few scenes in which Margie(as a girl) was seen to be upset over something or someone. This is also significant, because this contrasts sharply with the simple, and humorous tone Sartrapi usually uses in portraying the deeper, more harrowing aspects of her childhood.

 

The discourse of our blogs were “normative” in the sense that we reflected English skills in our posts-evaluated characters, defended theories, and described the process by which we read, but it was also “creative”, “challenging and changing what teachers, schools, and other authority figures feels to be acceptable. In our class, the comment and posting on weblogs(or blogs) really enhanced class discussions and sparked new ideas. As I previously mentioned, the “freedom and novelty of the blog form allowed students to create new identities”, or at least identities of their own choosing-that may or may not have been their “true” identity. Moreover, because almost all basic rules of English usage are abandoned, the blogging environment reduces “the emotional stakes of failing are abandoned”.   In the space of the blogosphere, we feel free to experiment with class texts-we can talk back to characters, reframe events according to topics we’re familiar with, and express our opinions on  a“ set” curriculum in ways that they couldn’t or wouldn’t within the constraints of a traditional classroom setting. In doing this we have called upon the tools of formal literary analysis we have learned in previous years, but also disrupted the notions of language use embedded in the curriculum of school by incorporating “nontraditional” and “unconventional” skills within our work.

Moreover, in this case technology served as a motivating factor: blogging allowed me to experience writing in a way that was presented differently from the traditional writing that I’m used to. I have gotten comfortable using technologies such as chat, email, and weblogs. Because blogs are so familiar to me, the technology becomes “transparent’ and writing is the focus. I also enjoy the fact that that I can publish something instantly. Time constraints of the classroom can limit both the scope of and participation in discussions. Blogs provide a forum in which everyone can participate equally, and new discussions can easily branch out from established topics.

I also really appreciate that for both of my classes, Neurobiology and Behavior as well as Literary Kinds, the comment and posting on weblogs(or blogs) really enhanced class discussions and sparked new ideas. As I mentioned in my first web paper, the “freedom and novelty of the blog form allowed students to create new identities”, or at least identities of their own choosing-that may or may not have been their “true” identity. Moreover, because almost all basic rules of English usage are abandoned, the blogging environment reduces “the emotional stakes of failing are abandoned”.   In the space of the blogosphere, we feel free to experiment with class texts-we can talk back to characters, reframe events according to discourses we’re familiar with, and express resistance to the prescribed curriculum in ways that they couldn’t or wouldn’t within the bounds of the classroom. In doing this we have called upon the tools of formal literary analysis we have learned in previous years, but also disrupted the notions of language use embedded in the curriculum of school by incorporating “nontraditional” and “unconventional” skills within our work. The following is a blog post for my Neurobiology class:

Discussion Topic: You're free to write about whatever came into your mind this week, but if you need something to get you started: what have we learned about the brain, about behavior, from studying neuronal signals?  What more do we need to make sense of all of human behavior/experience? 

I was always slightly uncomfortable with the notion of the self being completely constructed by the nervous system. How are our personalities formed if our behaviors, actions, and thoughts are just a product of our subconscious? What differentiates one individual from another –is it the biological makeup of our nervous systems, or is it the environmental factors that impact us and influence who we are? Or is it a mix of both rather, and if so what extent is it environmental factors and to what extent is it biological factors? Yet as I think about the alternate possibility, the possibility that we would have complete control over our nervous systems? I am already uptight enough as it is, if I had control over my nervous system I would probably be overwhelmed and burn out at a much quicker rate than I do now. A simple response would take so much effort because you would have to make an effort to think and critique every though that passes through your brain-this would cause you to go through each neuronal step, generate each action potential, to engender a movement or response that the nervous system can generate in a matter of seconds. In some ways, I am glad that we aren’t in complete control of our nervous systems , not just for the sake of preserving our sanity, but also because it is both humbling liberating to know that we can’t always control what’s going on all the time and that we do not always have the power to control our circumstances. In some ways I’m glad that there are certain things that I’ll never be able to grasp and yet there are aspects of myself that I do understand and can control: I think this push and pull of humanity is part of what makes life meaningful and fulfilling

For someone who considers herself to be more of a social science student, I found it challenging to write about the brain and behavior. My thoughts did not come naturally and I had more difficulty forming coherent sentences than I did when I blogged for Literary Kinds.  While I was writing this response, I thought to myself I really do not know much about the biological aspect of neurobiology, although I knew enough about behavior and was thus more comfortable talking about it, I had a hard time trying to incorporate the neurobiology and thus included as little discussion about the “nervous system” and all its “action potentials” as possible. Not only did I struggle more with the content in this class, but I also found interaction with other students to be more impersonal (which could have been partly due to the fact that there were more students in this class than in Literary Kind) This affected me in the following ways: First of all, I was less likely to read other’s comments if I didn’t recognize their username. Second of all, because I did not know many of the students who commented, I was less prone to commenting even if there were something I wanted to contribute. Thirdly, even when I did comment, I was over-cautious and constantly found myself self-editing. Since I felt the need to self-edit more, I was prone to commenting and posting: this lead to a vicious cycle resulting me in contributing less to the online “chatter”, and perhaps disrupting the flow of conversation, simply by not contributing.

For me, blogging almost serves as a sense of play: I found that even though I was blogging for academic purposes, the conservatory nature of blogs made blogging more enjoyable and less obligatory. At the end of the year, I realized that I know more about other students, and that I know more about the thinking and reading processes of one another, from reading web posts. I believe that professors can really harness the enjoyment that comes from this interaction to deepen the level of engagement students make with texts. Sometimes we would find ourselves reaching an epiphany in which we experienced a sudden, or unexpected discovery, or a sudden realization of the solution to a problem. This eureka moment, this feeling of a light-bulb going off in our heads, paramount to why weblogs are so great and should continue to be used!

According to Anne Dalke: “What matters most to me is that this process of ongoing and ever-revisable conversation becomes an open-and constantly edited-record both of the conversations we are conducting within ourselves, in our own heads, and of those we are having with one another, each of them continually altering the other. This, for me, is the key and core of the productivity of technologized education as Serendip enacts and represents it: taken together, those internal externalized conversations provide contributors (at least they provide this contributor, and the invitation is open to all others!) with a profound sense-and a record-of ourselves as thinking, re-thinking, ever-revisable beings-which means: as actors in, and contributors to, the shaping and re-shaping of the world”.  

I was struck by this description because the “ongoing and ever-revisable conversation” that Anne describes mirrors the type of environment that I spend my time nurturing on Blogspot. Not only does Blogspot serve as a space to capture my thoughts(blogging allows me to slow down, and find that “still inner-voice” that gets stifled amidst the busyness and frustration of every-day living),  but blogs serve as the medium through which I can communicate and release my thoughts.  In my entries, for the most part, there is very little self-editing. I am comfortable enough just jutting down my thoughts-as they come-since I know everyone who reads my blogs-l am self-assured( however ignorant this may that be) that they will interpret my comments with the “right” mind-set. I find that self-editing gets in the way of expressing and communicating my thoughts-sometimes in an effort to make my thoughts sound more eloquent- I end up forgetting what I wanted to communicate in the first place. Unlike other blogs, I do not aspire to captivate others with my eloquence, or writing ability as one would be captivated by a painting or a work of art: I simply wish to educate: to spread, share, transfer, and obtain “knowledge”, and ultimately transform my own thoughts, in the hopes that I would be able to understand myself and others better. Although the constant outpouring of thoughts may seem random, unfocused, nonsensical, and even uninteresting this process reflects an ever-changing and “ever-growing” self that symbolizes my growth.

Perhaps rather than updating my blog seven times a day, I could be more productive with my time and act on my intentions and follow through with thoughts, and ideas. In this manner, maybe I am detracting from my own education by stunting my growth. However, there are many thoughts, intentions that I couldn’t on because I do not have the capability and resources to do so and others that I shouldn’t act on because I can’t afford to suffer the consequences that would result from my course of action.

Ollama: www.youtube.com/watch

//July 24, 2009//

this is a little to much for my brain to handle at the moment

but this kinda fuels my already biast opinions of obama

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi-V_ilJu0w&feature=player_embedded

however this last line really rings true:

 

Obama may claim to be a Christian, and he may even succeed in fooling a couple of people, but to those who know better, we see very clearly that his words betray what he claims his heart stands for. = = = = =

im being alil close-minded here.

he is going against what he stands for- but isn't that what also makes him a politicianeven if he truly believes in something is it right and okay for him to declare that over the rest of America. as humans, we have to judge, its our way of making sense of the world, but were doing so at the expense of the other person. [oh my god this totally made sense in my head i swear]essentially expecting perfection from an imperfect being presidents have such an incredible responsibility that its amazing they don't crumble under the pressure. i guess ideally you chose the candidate based on what that person believes in but now candidates wanna kno what people believe so they can be chosen. this totally has nothing to do with what came to mind early which was the fact that its unfair for me to determine the validity and righteousness of obama's beliefs-altho it is human nature to do so- due to the sheer complexity of different issues in this world and the impossibility of meeting everyone's needs.and essentially, you could say that it would be a personal sacrifice for him to go against what his heart stands for for what he believes to be the best for his people.....that is if he felt so strongly abt the issue in the first place....

but that's a different story...

//but i still don't like obama//

no real reason why

Even though my thoughts are often jumbled, vague, disorderly, and inchorent, while my claims are blatantly bias and may not always be accurate, I think that it is very helpful to me It is important for me to be able to self-reflect and pour my thoughts in a space in which I feel that I can be heard. Blogging may appear to be a more passive means of learning and affecting change, but often times, there is no immediate action that can be taken, and spreading awareness is more important.  My posts are not just about one topic or issue, but I blog about anything that strikes me as interesting, perplexing, distributing, gratifying, and virtually anything that catches my attention. There are times when I want to complain about the injustices that I, or others have experienced, or there are times when I have experienced something to what I consider “enlightening” I feel the need to “share” my experiences with others my blogging about it. Other times, my posts are full of laments over what I think should have but did not occur during the day, or my insight towards people’s behavior, or videos, photos, and random other pieces of “insight” that I find to be intriguing and stimulating. In this sense I think that I am furthering my education because blogging helps me to understand people better. Instead of blindly going through the motions that occupy day-to-day living lifestyle, blogging offers a temporary escape from the “noise” and really allows me the opportunity to ask questions, explore more deeply the actions of others, different ideas, theories, and other various events that have occurred throughout the day. Blogging gives me the opportunity to hone in on matters that are most important to me. I can also subscribe to multiple blogs and read, which allows students to reference and comment on the work of peers in their won blogs.

Blogs also allows one to deal with more than just text. I am able to upload files, images as well as reference and link to other sites. I no longer need to be in the same classroom as my peers , but I can access their blogs anywhere I have access to internet. By reflecting and commenting on these images, videos and other files individuals are able to come together. Essentially, one can collaborate, build knowledge, and build communities with classrooms from around the world.

According to former U.N. Secretary-General “None of us is born intolerant of those who differ from us. Intolerance is taught and can be untaught-though often with great difficulty. We must work together to prevent intolerance from taking hold in the next generation. We must build on the open-mindedness of young people, and ensure that their minds remain open.[…] More than ever before, people understand that they are being shaped by many cultures and influences, and that combining the familiar with the foreign can be a source of powerful knowledge and insight. People can and should take pride in their particular faith or heritage. But we can cherish what we are, without hating what we are not. Now I see possibilities for my education that I never before realized existed. It hasn’t proven that easy in practice-obstacles will always exist-but instead of feeling as though there is only one path to my destination, I know believe my options are limitless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited:

 

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_edu/edtech04/expanding/

http://www.globaled.us/now/fullstatementannan.html#1

http://www.globaled.us/now/fullstatementgoodman.html#10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi-V_ilJu0w&feature=player_embedded

 

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