The Urge to Merge in The Age of Connectivity

© 2001 by Lou Fournier and Lynell Burmark. All rights strictly reserved.

Abstract:

The world wants to connect. That's no small reason why technology is so appealing: suddenly much of the world is just a mouse click away. Yet there is a human side to this global urge to merge that must not be lost in the shuffle of software, for the astonishing fact remains that in this Age of Connectivity some one third of the world still has never used a telephone.  We want a sense of community and common cause, a humane and uplifting use of technology, and perhaps the best place to develop this is the classroom.

Connectivity must come to mean more than just machines that transcend national borders. Our technology must construct creative connections. This presentation explores biological, social, technical, and humorous connections, discusses how they impact us in the classroom and in our daily lives, and shares how we can merge without becoming submerged.

The most basic connections are biological -- from the conception of a child to the development of the neural pathways in that child's brain. Just how important are these connections in the brain?  Upon his death, Albert Einstein's brain was analyzed in laboratories around the world. Not surprisingly, the number of connections in his brain far exceeded the average. Although he failed math in school, his spatial and visual connections (the place where things can be imagined in the "mind's eye") were well wired. The good news is that we can continue to grow these connections, to "wire" our brains, for as long as we remain mentally active.

Social connections are what makes the world go 'round. Think about it. Pick up any magazine or newspaper and look for the word connect. It's everywhere you want to be...

Technological connections provide the underlying circuitry for our high tech world. From the Coke machines in Tokyo that "modem" the warehouse with their refill orders, to the "smart" appliances whose built-in chips record performance and report problems needing repairs, devices in our daily lives are transparently "wired" to the services that keep them operational.

And what does this mean for classrooms? Perhaps the pedagogical connections are the most exciting. Because, particularly in elementary school, we work with children whose brains exhibit a high degree of plasticity, we have the opportunity to wire those minds for optimal productivity and richness of life. By establishing a pattern of building connections, of creative juxtapositions, we can nurture young minds and lay the neural pathways that will empower them to be the creative geniuses of the next century.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention how the humor that enriches our lives is all about creative connections -- juxtaposing words and images in new ways, that cause us to think along new lines... 

Those who can see the connections, who constantly construct new, creative connections, will be the leaders in the Age of Connectivity. They will be the wise and happy members who enrich and empower society in the twenty-first century.

Note: This session is co-presented with Thornburg Center Associate Dr. Lynell Burmark.

Presentation type... keynote, breakout session or workshop
Audience................ all
Duration................. 1 to 7 hours
Handouts................ no

Mr. Fournier will gladly tailor any presentation to your specific needs.