My good friend and new blogger Rob Mancabelli writes about the challenges of schooling in a world of extended, global connections and information in terms not just of the literacies this more complex environment demands but the emotional toll as well. His thoughts come on the heels of a conversation with a principal who was concerned that
students were seeking out and locating more and more emotionally packed information on their own time, often by themselves, causing them to come to our schools each day laden with a plethora of undiscussed feelings, questions and ideas.
It’s an interesting point, and not one that I’ve thought about much in terms of my own practice. In the six years that I’ve been slogging away at this now, I’ve come to a place where the underlying emotional messages of much of what I read get sifted out through a filter, though that’s not always the case, obviously. But to really get empathic and sit in the shoes of a teen-ager (or younger) with all of this, I wonder what types of coping mechanisms he or she might have.
Which brings me, once again, to the larger point: who is teaching them how to cope as self-learners both on an intellectual and emotional level? And can we as educators teach them if we ourselves aren’t coping? I’m in no way belittling the question that principal poses, but if she herself is working to solve these issues in her own practice, would she not better understand the pedagogies for teaching her students how to deal with the stresses? A lot of rhetorical questions, I know (which will once again make Tom Hoffman glad he’s not reading my blog any longer.)
I find it kind of interesting, also, that the one part of that quote above that really jumps out at me is the “often by themselves” part. At first blush, that seems pretty innocuous, but since much of what I read and access is brought to me through my network, as is the case here, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing this by myself as much. Rob has already lent some of his perspective and analysis to this, which in some ways, helps me cope with my own reaction to it. That’s the power of this in my life, and one reason why the whole concept of networked learning resonates so deeply for me. And why we need to teach our kids how to build networks of trusted sources they can turn to themselves for intellectual and emotional support in the process.
But how can we do that if we ourselves don’t?
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