After listening to an amazing talk given by Paul Prinsloo, I was very intrigued by the concept of blind spots. When considering information, (any sort of information) – it is essential as Paul puts it, to approach with critical consciousness. Throughout the talk Paul gave the analogy of a soccer field and through the conversation it was shared that as players we must be able to interpret not only where we are within the field (of information), but who the other players are also and what we must do next.
Blind spots, however causes me to think along the analogy of a car instead, and so in my thinking, I will ‘shift gears’ if you will, in order to approach with a deeper critical consciousness myself. Being aware of blind spots as you drive as a metaliterate learner along the highway of information means that you try to become aware not only of what you know (what is ahead of you, in front of you, the path you see on your gps, the person sitting beside you), but that you also take into account the information you aren’t seeing. I see recognizing these blind spots as such an important step in expanding the knowledge of learners, but also a step that can be very difficult to do?
As a former educator, I spent a lot of my time learning how to bring blind spots into view for my students (or help them to see it for themselves, rather). And yet, this wasn’t an easy step for everyone. Sometimes it meant that we needed to take two steps backward from where we had come before taking the next step forward. One of the most tangible memories was a lesson that dealt with fractions. I remember it clearly because some of my students weren’t ready for the conversation that happened next. I was supposed to be teaching fractions until one very bright child asked if things could continue to get smaller than 1/4. I said yes. Then he asked if it could keep going. I said yes again. Rather than diverting the conversation, I engaged and as students kept asking our seemingly basic conversation about fractions drifted into what infinity actually meant and if negative numbers would ever reach positive numbers. These were very large concepts for some of my third graders.
Yet, though not everyone was ready to learn… there was energy and spark in the room because together we had uncovered something new; something we didn’t know, and didn’t know we didn’t know; a blind spot.
At this moment in time, I am realizing that there are some blind spots that I may never see and knowing that seems both intimidating and implies a certain type of freedom at the same time. Freedom perhaps because I realize that I can choose to focus on uncovering what it is that I don’t know and due to the large amount of technology that I have access to, I might be able see more clearly what was obstructed from view before. I say might because there is a chance that I might not be able to fully understand it or that I might not have access.
Within the Mooc Talk, we also discovered that as Paul mentioned in one of his slides ‘not everyone is included but everyone is affected‘. This statement was in regard to the fact that due to connections and access, some of us (or some vehicles) may not be able to access information because it isn’t available. For instance, perhaps I would like to learn about information that isn’t available on the Internet in an accessible form because it is protected or because I don’t have the ability to afford the publication of this information. In that case, even if I am aware of a blind spot, who will help me navigate? This brings me back to the feeling of intimidation – for there are information highways I may travel and places I may never be permitted to see. Both shape my perception.
We can all agree that it is important to be aware of what you don’t know (to the best of your ability, right?) The next step, in my opinion, would be to develop a plan that would help you to know what you don’t know. In this case, pulling out a map in order to get from point a to point b. Perhaps it’s also important to include that in the information age, the map changes even as you’re driving down the highway. Potentially new blind spots could be popping up all over the place. Over time, say ten years from now, will I still have the ability and the access the blind spots I’m aware of? I hope certainly hope so, because it is the blind spots that inspire me to keep driving.