Posted by: arieliondotcom | October 29, 2008

It’s Called Homework

I was surprised by the amount of venom spewed at Stephen Downes over his auto-subscribing experiment/fiasco on the Moodle forum for the CCK08 course.  Now I understand the frustration of having your inbox filled with e-mails.  That’s the overwhelming feeling we all had when 2,000 emails started coming in from all over the world in the first “Introduction” thread on the Moodle.  Not a good way to start.  But once we figured out how to unsubscribe, all was well.  So it should have been an easy connection to make in the minds of folks to simply unsubscribe and be done with it.  But it wasn’t.

Instead all kinds of things emerged from threats of withdrawal from the course (something like a toddler threatening to hold his breath or screaming “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANY MORE!”) to Asian philosophers.

For my part, it was helpful because (whether it was intended or not) it made me realize several things about this week’s issue:  Power and Authority.  First, as I posted in the Moodle, Stephen had no more power than that of influencing us to either respond or ignore, to delete or unsubscribe.  And it prompted the understanding that there are always options.  Some too drastic to consider, especially if you have others to consider, but they exist none the less, when confronted with authority.

And the other was that the responses from posters were probably the same responses they had as children to getting a homework assignment.  “iT’S NOT FAIR!”  I wanted to…I’m too busy…You promised…But you said…

It’s called homework, something we’re foisting on children and youngsters all over the world every day, forced connections like force-feeding young calves doomed to become veal cutlets.  But we actually justify it by saying “Oh, hell, they’re only K-12’ers and without me they’d be in big trouble.”

Really?  I wonder.  I think every child is a walking power grid.  They will make their connections, do what you will as a “teacher.”  If you are the most attractive connection around, they will be attracted to you, will want to conect to your source of information, will grow from and with you.  But if you try to constrict and insulate them, to keep them from connecting to anything or anyone but the way YOU want, the spark will jump the gap and connections will be made in all sorts of unexpected (to you) and perhaps unpleasantly shocking ways.


  1. […] to the exercise of power. ( I saw Tom’s post too through The Daily link and Ariel’s post through the WordPress Tag […]

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