Of course, the church has been trying to think through the importance of non-spatial identities for centuries, which helps explain my confidence that a theologian’s perspective can contribute to the discussion. All along, people’s identities have been constituted by the memories, links, knowledge, and patterns that they share (or not) with the rest of the world; in our digital environment, those aspects of identity come to the fore. Let’s not shackle them to simulated spatiality, but instead let’s seek out a way to work with identity in ways indigenous to a non-spatial identity ecology.
a tweedy academic in a town overrun with tweedy academics or a visibly-identifiable priest (at a cultural moment when any given (male) priest bears the suspicion that he has done horrible things to children)He concluded talking about:
[a] new, freshly ambiguated zone between full physical presence (and I've learned enough from my postmodern studies to doubt the obviousness of "presence") on one hand and merely-verbal communicative absence (on the other) that we wrestle with the messages that come to us from we-know-not-exactly-where. As we learn how to live appropriately, I might say "authentically" to bring us back around to the topic we were talking about when I first met many of you, under these unfamiliar conditions, we will find neither that "religion" is passé, nor that we are truly immaterial beings trapped in decaying flesh, but that there's more to cyberplace than just immaterial or physical existence, more even than we have dreamed of.I am again left wondering if the different mediation of "cyberspace" is not more significant than the "cyberspace" idea suggests, and therefore the difference in "presence" less significant...
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Throw them some mice!Like I said, brilliant and simple ;-) So, a supplementary question for you all: What sort of wisdom-related "mice" might get a class of students going as cats?
Cat: Scratch my ear. Ex-cellent. May I use your leg as a scratching post? No? Hmm, how about I sit on you instead.You see, recognisably Dog and Cat, as we meet them in everyday life, but also recognisably roles we play in social contexts. Not necessarily actually as built-in personality, but at least roles we adopt in particular situations, and probably as preferences too?
Do not move. ... Well done. Now feed me.
Dog: Hello, let's do something. What should we do? ...
Yes, the stick fetching game would be acceptable.
... However I find that stick you are holding uninteresting. Try again. ... Ah, yes, yes! That stick I find quite exciting! Ok, I will fetch the stick. ... That was fun!
TeachingI know that frustration! The answer is to be sneakier in avoiding the Cat role:
When teaching a class, the teacher naturally takes the cat role. Therefore, the students are in the dog role, and adopt the dog cognitive style.Brian: "You are all individuals."Most of the time, this assignment of roles is correct. However when teaching a creative or assertive skill (for example, programming or feminism), it may be important for students to practice using the cat cognitive style: they will need to use this style when applying what you teach.
Crowd: "Yes, we are all individuals."
Simply asking questions of your students will not put them in the cat role, as it is still you that initiates action. Thus, asking questions is not a good strategy for waking students up and getting them engaged, something that causes much frustration to teachers.
I once had a lecturer called Damian Conway (yes, that Damian Conway) who avoided taking the cat role by making his students set the agenda. At the start of the lecture, he would ask for questions, which he would then write on the blackboard. This took a little coaxing, usually when you go to a lecture your brain has switched to idle before your bum hits the seat. He then ad-libbed the lecture from these questions. (It's no good to ask for questions at the end of the lecture, by then everyone is comfortably in dog mode.)I can't see me adopting the "act stupid" idea much - I guess I'm afraid they might not catch the irony ;-) but I've always been tempted by the idea of getting the students to design the class...
Another way to flip roles is to do something blatantly and obviously stupid, and hope someone points it out.Performer: "Where has it gone? Where-ever can it be?"
Audience: "Behind you! Behind you!"
The problem is that often people look at only the front end of what technology has to offer instead of the back end, or the outcome. An elementary principal told me that his fifth- and sixth-grade teachers are having problems when assigning research projects. The students view it as a procedure where they cut and paste information off a Web site, add some sentences of their own and turn it in. The information passes too quickly from the screen to the homework papers and isn't processed through the mind. The speed and ease of the digital resources actually conspires against producing long-term understanding.Now, I know exactly what this is about, I've seen it. My daughter preparing work for school, and slowly I am becginning to see it in my Intro class students. What makes me want to scream and cry is that the fault is not the students, it's the teachers! I said I was beginning to see the problem crop up in younger students in the Intro classes. Why do I not find it in the same students in level 2? Because we have taught them better. Returned work saying it is unacceptable, and explaining why it is unacceptable, and students learn to behave differently. They learn the behaviour proper to an academic environment, they learn to interact with and process what they read. Why can't this school principal get his teachers to do the same - after all the younger kids are brighter and more adaptable than the young adults we teach ;-)
You improve your writing only when you are pulled up and challenged. The blogs keep them [young people] networking only with their peers and that holds them at the same level.Duh! Of course, but what is the teacher's role in this, the technology of blogging allows the student (at whatever level they are) to interact with writers who are more advanced than themselves. I've watched that work in a blogging community of Biblical Scholars. Now so far as I know no secondary students have interacted with that community, but there is no reason, if the student has some humility and common sense they could not. I'd bet it would be the same with communities of organic Chemists, or Poodle Fanciers. It is not the technology that is the problem producing dumb students, it is the teaching that is lacking, allowing dumb students!
We honor both the discipline and our students by teaching them how to think likeWhich as Nichthus recognises raises, for teachers, the question: How do theologians think? I'm delighted that in seeking to answer this he returns to my favourite description of theology, Anselm's "Faith seeking understanding". In the light of this what theologians do is seek to understand (life, the universe and everything) as believers.
historians or biologists or literary critics rather than merely how to lip-sync the conclusions others have reached.
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