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asweeney's blog

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Mediums for Meanness?

Wow! I was so impressed by the panel today. I could speak to those kids for hours more. One thing that came up briefly in the discussion, but that we did not have time to really explore was the ways in which technology can help form tight-knit communities based on the shared destructive comments about a different person or group. I know that this is a common feature of all human societies (we like to form an "us" as opposed to a "them") but such dynamics are typically discouraged in school settings where we try to teach kids about how to be better people---or this was at least true in my religious school that listed one of its top 5 goals as "building community as a christian value." I wonder if increased access and usage of technology makes it less problamatic and easier for kids to be hateful and mean towards others (like the example of the principle talked about today). In my high school, we had an instance of meanness on that became a huge problem. Because people were anonymous, they felt comfrotable saying malicious things about others online. On the other hand, I'm sure a lot of us have seen the ways in which YouTube users united to create a message of kindness -- "It Gets Better"-- in the past years. Do you think technology is helping or hindering children's ability to practice kindness (I really believe that kindness does take practice)?

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Another perspective on cyborgs?

Following our class discussion on Andy Clark's ideas and their application to the classroom, I attended my Religion, Sex, and Power class in which we had just read The Cyborg Manifesto  by Donna Haraway. Weird coincidence, right? Now, in this other class, we were looking at the concept of a cyborg through a feminist lense and discussing the differences between a cyborg and a goddess, as the auther eventually states that she "would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." How is it, we wondered, that a cyborg is a stronger figure to which women should look than the goddess? After debating for quite a while, we eventually concluded that one imporant aspect of the cyborg is that her inner knowledge is fused with the knowledge of the external world as well (I had to mention the "skinbag" concept at this point....). This contrasts with the image of the goddess that comes from within us and "is us." 

Since these two class discussions, I've been trying to think through how some of these contrasts between goddess and cyborg might related to the clasroom. Or do they? One thought I had is that maybe our classrooms should continue to emphasize the activity of reaching outside ourselves and to the larger community to help faciliate our learning and growth. 

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