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Monday, August 30, 2010

Cultural Storytellers

Our culture is based mainly on stories. Humans tell stories through vehicles, which can be characterized by:

Face-to-face:
personalized
vocal inflection
gesture/facial expression

Written:
can be personalized or mass produced
written description
pictures
linear (open book, beginning, middle, end, close book), or can be interrupted (open book, beginning, sit on shelf for three weeks...).

Visual:
non-personal; mass produced
vocal inflection
gesture/facial expression
pictures
interrupted thought stream (commercials, banners, etc)

We pass these stories down, re-telling them and re-structuring them to our cultures' needs, similar to our re-appropriation of words. The characters change, but usually their traits do not. The hero is brave, honest...the villain is manipulative. The "villain" even has certain physical traits that often carry across narratives.

How do stories change when told as narratives or as textbook stories? Here's a great lesson plan.

At large, our cultural stories are no longer told face-to-face. Instead, the media is the main vehicle of cultural narrative. When the media shows us three terrorist Islamic groups, but no peaceful ones, we are led to believe that Islamic groups are typically terrorists, and thus evil. In fact, there are more beneficial Islamic-based groups, such as the Red Crescent, than there are negative.

Social media is a fast paced, 140 character or less story. We've lessened face-to-face (thus lost the personal touch)but gained niche material-it's easy to find what we want. But we remain biased; while sites that counter our beliefs are out there, we seldom visit them.

How has our fast-paced, "I'll find what I want in one click" narrative effected our learning style? Parentella's PTChat got these responses:

Parentella: We’re discussing whether online courses create more problems than they solve.
judiehaynes: Blog: Holding Conferences with Parents of English Language Learners http://tinyurl.com/2ctgfg6
geogeller: @Parentella just chatting with The Intergenerational School http://www.tisonline.org/
Parentella: What are some of the cons (if any) that you see to online learning?
cybraryman1: The obvious drawback to online courses is no real direct face to face contact on a steady basis. Never took an online course.
Celinejr: @Parentella 1 of the pros would be individualized learning, work and progress at your own pace
readtoday: Children will tell you if the material is badly designed. You just need to watch their faces and hands
mom2preteens: Our high school used online courses for credit recovery last summer. Epic fail.
GaryBrannigan: Teachers need to be have a greater presence in online than traditional courses
PaulWHankins: This answer will sound snarky, but we must create assignments that won’t allow. The I-Search as introduced by Ken Marcorie helps.
judiehaynes: Many studentsare interested in the shortest route possible through a course.
jkokladas: @GaryBrannigan @cybraryman1 My masters was online (in a virtual world) with f2f meetings 1-2 times/month-the combination was great
DR_E_WATERS: RT @readtoday We need to stop seeing technology as this “program” and start see it as a new delivery paradigm for information

Want to cast your vote? Join Parentella was created to solve the issue of parent and educator communication at elementary, middle school and high school levels. As part of this mission, we are hosting weekly #PTCHAT discussions to encourage a productive dialogue between parents and educators. We hope you will join us Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST.

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