Clay Burrell and I have been having an offline get-to-know-you email conversation this week—digitally exchanging cards in a flat world. Our conversation began from the kind of tag- and comment-driven interaction Clay describes in his Blogging as Conversation Gone a Bit Surreal post. Here he’s describing his exchange with Patrick Higgins, but it’s a good sketch of what most have experienced:
He helped me think on my blog, and I tried to reciprocate on his. This
stranger-reader-interlocutor and I, in short, began to "blog-converse."
The typical first question when you meet someone at a cocktail party is "So. . . what do you do?" It betrays a Western sensibility that equates a person’s identity with their work. . . but it’s still a pretty good question. Giving it a truly 21st-century twist, though, Clay asked me a different question: "Where are you?"
He meant it in geographical sense, of course. And it’s already a remarkable enough fact that he’s in Seoul, I’m in Saint Paul, and that we’ve bumped into each other with relative ease. But his question runs deeper. Where are we? My sense of myself as being grounded in Saint Paul becomes a little less defined with every blogosphere connection. Identification with geography—sense of place—is starting to give way to something or someplace else. Where may also be about waypoints of personal and professional growth. Where am I? Certainly not in the same place as when I started this blog in mid-December. And then there’s the $64K question: Where are you going?
As Clay and I compared notes, I realized (and mentioned) that a surprising number of the blogs in my reader are written by folks teaching and living overseas, specifically Asia. The roster includes Jeff Utecht’s Thinking Stick (Shanghai) Kim Cofino’s Always Learning, (Kuala Lumpur) Susan Sedro’s Adventures in Educational Blogging (Singapore) and Clay’s Beyond School (Seoul). What’s that all about? Maybe not so surprising after all. Anyone whose teaching journey takes them beyond the Stateside mainstream, who’s adventurous and curious enough to embrace teaching and learning in a different place and culture, seems likely to bring that same sense of adventure and curiosity to teaching with technology.