Innovating a Loud Silence
There is an Inuit word called Miksa, which means between. I often think I am like that as a constant. My eyes are blue and my skin is pink but my great-great-grandmother was Inuit. We don’t know her name. According to the local census, she was the “Eskimo” married to a Protestant in a village of “Bonnes Catholiques”. She has no story that echoes her into today, at least nothing tangible. In my Masters program, I had to write about my world view and I did discover how it is reflective of a person walking between two cultures. It seems to be a perpetual metaphor of mine that I begin to see ‘miksa moments’.
This weekend I attended a conference on Distributed Learning and Moodle. I had my own little ironic comedy show in my head the whole weekend: my vocal chords are still healing from the cough I had weeks ago and I couldn’t talk without choking sometimes. I was between again: between thought and speech but then I began to listen more. I was struck how different groups embraced and reflected their own culture in the, often safe, speech patterns. I could see a difference in Moodlers, K12 teachers, and BC administrators. Then there was George Couros, the gold standard of discourse.
His chromatic keynote filled with videos, humor and his own history encouraged people to create a shared space where our voices could be visible and tangible through Web 2.o. He validated that even the most vulnerable introverted child can have a presence that is bold and powerful, reaching across time and space into the hearts of many through text. George watched us smile in awe at the video clip of Westhigh Bro’s use of Twitter to compliment, how a quiet person can be a stronger influence than bullies. Then there is the dad that created a living time capsule journal in gmail in his daughter’s name. Those moments reminds me how too often as an educator we can too easily value the children who “participates”, the ones who are vocally present compared to the quiet “disengaged” ones. Those learners are socially present with their loud silence. They may be attune to the nuances of authority. The shifts in energy. The flow of social protocols. They too are powerfully present but teachers may need to be creative to find those harmonious strategies. Online offers those more introverted learners the opportunity to participate, to be heard and valued in a global community that values creativity and not the first to put their hand up.
Through his exuberant presentation, George demonstrated his innovation paradigm is not based on fear or control. He is willing to experiment, make mistakes, and “suck at all of them” (social media). In turn, he invites people into making meaningful mistakes as both learner and teacher. Maybe it is because he walks in several worlds that he is a powerful and inspirational voice for innovation. For now, my voice is quiet but my thoughts are louder.