Connection- It Is A Healthy Thing
The word connect and what it means is different for everyone. For me, connecting means putting things together to get something else. When you connect the plug to the outlet, you get light. If you connect the individual pieces of a jigsaw, you get a cohesive and often beautiful picture. Connect the chocolate, eggs, flour, and butter to a heat source, you get a cake. Connection–it is the epitome of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When Howe and Robinson (2005) coined the term crowdsourcing, they were really talking about connection and the sharing of knowledge. It is such a powerul tool–this concept of sharing in order to gain and distribute information. We are, really and truthfully, more enriched when we give up our egos and realize that we, as individuals, really do not know it all. Did you ever think why the term “know it all” has such a negative connotation?
I think about that and try to parse together my own feelings about know-it-alls. In my world, Mr. Know-It-All, from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, was uppity, supercilious, condescending, and of course, knew it all. Giving incredibly pompous advice about anything and everything, something always went wrong–thereby letting us know, in an off-handed way, that know-it-alls do not really know it all. From how to capture a lion to How To Cook A Turkey’s Goose–in the spirit of the upcoming season, we learn that know-it-alls often come across as well- not so smart.
The concept of knowing-it-all doesn’t seem to fit in naturally to human social experience. Children may not want to share their toys, but that is not the same thing as not wanting to share their knowledge and expertise. Watch children play. When one child struggles, the others will help. They will share their crayons. They will willingly share their work. They will say, “I’ll show you how.” Robert Fulghum wrote a text stating that everything he truly needed to become a functioning and responsible adult, he learned in kindergarten. And his first lesson: SHARE EVERYTHING. We need to remember the power of collaborative sharing. We need to embrace the concept of crowdsourcing. We are, together, greater than who we are as one. One is definitely the loneliest number. So why is this so hard to embrace in education? Adopting the crowdsourcing model, adopting the sense of community really means getting rid of borders and dividing lines. Community and sharing must eradicate power structures, and as Freire so accurately postulated, the banking model of education must be “withdrawn.” This can be harder than one thinks. I mean after all, we, in the teaching profession take our charge and our craft very seriously. We have a passion and a drive to mold the future of today’s youth, to help them become the most that they can be. But sometimes, we fall prey to insisting that we “know it all” and it is up to us to deliver our knowledge to a group of willing, or not-so-willing recipients. “Don’t worry children. This hurts us more than it hurts you” is what we say, but actually it doesn’t. It hurts everyone. We must take a refresher course in the benefits of sharing and combining the knowledge of many to enrich the knowledge of many.
We have to foster the development of our students and build their abilities, confidence, and strengths in what it really means to be an active and successful participant in today’s global world. We live in a world that is connected instantaneously with a click of a button. We live next door to each other even if we are continents apart. We have instantaneous connection with each other even if we cannot hold hands. We must allow our students to do this. Please, let’s give up the control and let the knowledge of many become the teacher of all.