Moving Beyond the Egocentric Expression of Experiences

Posted: February 21, 2011 in digital culture, edushifts, reflections

As one listens to educators or reads blogs, too often one hears how the teaching and learning experience is expressed in the first-person as what “I” did or how such-and-such affected “me”. Read through my blog posts and you’ll see that I’m guilty of this too. We just can’t help it – it’s human nature to have a selfish, egocentric view of the world where our experiences seem to only be our own and owned by us alone. It also doesn’t help that traditionally, education was about teaching in isolation and the practice of learning was accomplished on one’s own.

In today’s new world of digital communication, we talk a lot about collaboration and accessing the intelligence of the crowd. Ideally, we try to incorporate more and more communication technologies into the practice of teaching and learning with the goal of removing physical barriers. The purpose is to allow teachers to work with other teachers and students to work with other students in a collaborative environment where we can learn from each other. Yet when it comes to reflecting on our experiences, we continue express our teaching and learning moments as experiences of the self only. While our dialogue concerning the practice of teaching and learning has begun to move from “me” to “we”, our reflections on our teaching and learning experiences are still expressed in the first-person “me”.

Moving beyond this way of expressing oneself is not easy. After all, how can we accurately reflect on the experiences of others when really, we can only truly know our own personal experiences? Firstly, one must actually engage in collaborative teaching and learning experiences so that there is a “we” to refer to in the first place. Secondly, dialoguing with the group to gather the experiences, learning and understanding of others not only helps to inform our own thinking, but helps us to understand the experiences of others. Lastly, sharing experiences of the group instead of the individual involves discussing where the group and the individuals in the group were before a particular learning experience and how the activity changed/informed the group’s thinking.

I don’t profess to have all the answers but I think that raising the question is an important first step. How do you believe we can change the discourse of reflection from one of discussing individual experiences to one of a discussion of group experiences?

  1. Colin Jagoe says:

    Hmm… Interesting. I’ve been thinking about the nature of online presence and was trying to think of how what you put out there says about you, and how others see what you put out there. This is an extension of that. Group reflections are intriguing for sure. I’m not sure (as you point out) how to reflect as a group and have it accurately reflect what we’ve learned as individuals. Is the connectivism of a group (or network) a product of the sum of the individuals, or greater than the sum? And can you reflect in a way that shows the greater than part? I think I’d argue that it is greater than the sum of parts, but I’m not sure how to get at a way to point that out clearly. You got me thinking now. )

    • Thanks for the comment Colin. I like how you phrased it – constructing group knowledge and then constructing a group reflection. ‘Group-think’ is not a new idea but how do we express it? Is it accomplished through collaborative writing where each expresses their individual point of view which is collected in one place or is it one expression that is edited by all members of the group?

      • Colin Jagoe says:

        I don’t know Rob, I would always worry that some key idea of an individual would get missed, either for lack of confidence, other more assertive persons in the group, etc.. Perhaps a collaboration where individuals were free to do their own thing, and it’s all collated by a third, non-interested, person. Starts to be more like a research project than a reflection at that point. 🙂

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karenne Sylvester, Rob De Lorenzo. Rob De Lorenzo said: New blog post – "Moving Beyond the Ecocentric Expression of Experiences" – #mlearning […]

  3. […] Principals, VPs, and Administration Rob DeLorenzo pitched a lesson in humility and collaboration.  He talked about people who blog using the word “I” instead of the word […]

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