Controlling the techie monster (2)

Rebecca Reynolds Online-Teacher-Directory blog Controlling the techie monster (2)

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In Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking Glass (the successor to Alice in Wonderland), Alice meets the Red Queen. After the two of them have been running as fast as they can for some time, Alice is amazed to find that they are in exactly the same place. She tries to explain her astonishment to the Queen:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.” “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen, “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

American biologist Leigh Van Valen used this episode in the book to illustrate the way in which organisms must continually evolve in order to compete with other organisms, which are also continually evolving. It is a race in which species must continually develop to increase their chances of surviving – keep running to stay in the same place. This idea was popularised and applied to human beings in controversial ways in journalist Matt Ridley’s book The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.

I would also apply this idea to using web-based technology. It sometimes seems as though we have to run as fast as we can simply to maintain a niche on the web, and ultimately in business. New applications to check out, links to make, tweets to write. I think many people genuinely enjoy this activity but if, like me, you relish some of the things that need ‘a slow sort of country’ – walks, reflection, other kinds of communication -you may have mixed feelings. Above all I feel it is easy to mistake media for content, and to forget that what makes you special and unique as a teacher is not your ability to post videos online, it is what is in the videos. I find it useful to return to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ which for me are more important, and easier, than the ‘how’.

P.S. Through the Looking Glass is available as a free e-book here:

February 12, 2015