Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Other Side

I have mumbled, grumbled, and struggled to design interactive media that appeals to my Generation-So-Don’t-Think-Like-Me students who thrive in a non-linear environment. Yet I feel about teaching the way the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance describe movement—I just have to do it. (They would use an exclamation point. I certainly gush less than they do.) I’m a teaching creature, truly. So I have sucked it up and taken my linear laden self and waded into the world of online education and media. This effort has born my own blogging and the development of my online reading. As I read a recent article on Time Magazine’s website, I realized I have become more similar to that which I once could not understand…

Listen, I have trash taste in media. I read Gawker as faithfully as the Washington Post. I cry over One Tree Hill as loudly as I weep for characters in Richard Russo’s Empire Falls. (That book killed a part of me. I dare a public school educator/parent to be unmoved by that narrative.) Link by link, I have found myself some funny and inspirational places. Lately, I’ve been drawn to coverage of Governor Sanford. Ugh. Gosh. The emails--really? (What part in me is voyeur and what part is a grad student glad to have confirmation from a primary source?) At any rate, my Internet habits recently brought me to Caitlin Flanagan’s “Why Marriage Matters” via Time Magazine’s website. I’m not a regular on Time’s site, so I was surprised to see Flanagan’s piece littered with links: “See the top 10 regrettable emails,” “See the top 10 mistresses,” “Watch a gay marriage wedding video,” “See snapshots from a very special wedding,” and those are just the ones I clicked on. I’ve read a number of Flanagan’s pieces in The Atlantic over the years, and her writing tone doesn’t suggest she’d take kindly to constant interruption. It kind of made me giddy to click away and click back to her text. I was halfway through her article before it dawned on me—I’ve become one of “them.” I’m not reading an article from beginning to end. I am “she who segues.” The culture I waded into, just to learn some ways to relate, has sung its siren song to me and drawn me in. Interrupting Flanagan’s prose to go look at photos of famous mistresses feels like gesturing to my mother with my index finger to be quiet for a moment while I listen to the television. (Quite frankly, it just isn’t done.) Oh, the indulgence…Oh, the naughty pleasure…

It’s given me a reader’s buzz. I don’t regret it. I’m not sorry. I’m glad I know how to be linear should the situation require it, but oh glory be, the intermittent attention technique to reading a long article might be something I underestimated. Maybe I’ll add commiseration to the tools I use as an educator come the fall…

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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