Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tl;dr: Teaching, learning, attention, and the need to be interesting | Digital

Tl;dr: Teaching, learning, attention, and the need to be interesting | Digital

The Internet is a huge, buzzing conversation, not a lecture hall. No one is forced to listen to anyone else. Individual posts might be shorter, but rallies are long: You might write a thousand-word article, or post a ten-minute video, and it generates tens of thousands of words’ worth of comments and Tweets. That’s where the complexities truly emerge, in the back and forth. Overall, I don’t believe that our attention has diminished; it’s just that there’s so much more to pay attention to, and to contribute to as well. And isn’t this a better pedagogical model for encouraging people to grapple with complexity?

This is the intellectual virtue and courtesy of the Internet age: recognizing that attention is scarce and exhaustible, you take just as much as you need.
In fact, you can see this in the evolution of the usage of tl;dr itself. These days, I often see it used not as a way to bite your thumb at others’ comments, but as a way to sum up your own–as a handy guide for the reader who may have other things to do.  Cf:
tl;dr Brevity; soul of wit.


The world is complex, and it isn’t going to get any simpler. Unless we can create a population that is capable of thinking about complexity in complex ways, it is highly unlikely that the problems of global warming; economic inequality; access to affordable, high-quality health care; or any of the other challenges the U.S. and the rest of the world face will get adequate solutions. Good solutions to any of these problems will be complex, and they will not win support from a population that demands simplicity. Teachers have a responsibility to train complex minds that are suited to a complex world. This is at least as important as teaching young people mathematics, biology, or literature. For teachers, at all levels, attention must be paid to teaching that attention must be paid.

hmm.. unless - (like i think what Anya is getting at) - those complex ways just got way more sophisticated.. and it's not about sitting for 50 min focussed on something that someone else has decided you take in. the choice aspect is huge.. 
1. it let's us get very small - ie: at whimsy/grit of each on of 7 bill people - so that each person is self-sustaining in regard to motivation, which is where brilliance comes from
2. it let's us get very large - ie: zooming out to see the big picture (needed to solve these complex problems) we can skim things, we can gather things when needed, ... but we aren't lost in the details..

what if teachers training complex minds.. is part of the distraction.. to solving those problems. what if there is not prep or training today.. because it's all now. no need to store up. ness.