Things I Know 210 of 365: I’m an intellectual hoarder

To understand how hoarders can end up in such dire straits, you need to understand how the process starts, and that begins with understanding one central concept: To hoarders, none of that stuff is trash.

– TLC Network Website

George Siemens wrote a thoroughly interesting post about meeting up with Alan Levine and being introduced to Levine’s Piratebox/Storybox.

The post and the box – be it of the pirate or story variety – are both incredibly interesting and should be read and pondered.

The piece that stuck me in Siemens’s post had everything to do with his thinking around the potential uses of the box. Actually, it was his thinking on his thinking:

I’m not sure how to apply this to teaching/learning (why is that always the measure of an idea? “Hmm, how can I use this with students”? Why can’t things just be sometimes?). Something like a learning box? I’m grasping here.

The question of why things can’t just be scuttles around in my brain constantly.

Movie, book, song or conversation…anything entering my field of thinking is primarily analyzed for education.

No matter its origin or intended purpose, I find myself questioning how the object or idea can make teaching and learning better.

It’s a sickness.

Oddly enough, it’s a sickness I once pitied in others.

In college, as a member of the campus improv troupe, I was close friends with many theatre students. It was a whole other world from the close reading, critically theoretical, OED-loving one I knew as an English major.

Fortunately, all my theatre friends were tremendously talented and consistently found themselves cast in some production or another.

Dutiful friend that I was, I often found myself in the audience.

After a few shows, I noticed something.

While I was sitting in the audience submersed in the world of the play, whichever theatre friend was sitting next to me was seeing a different show altogether.

They saw colleagues on the stage practicing their art.

Where I saw story, they knew the backstory of how an actor moves from part to character to production. The knew and saw the pieces.

After the show, my basis for judgement was how much I’d lost myself in the world of the performance. Their bases for judgement were a million subtle metrics I would never understand.

The closest thing I have for comparison is where my mind goes when watching Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds or even Matilda.

This is also where my mind goes when it finds something novel, new, interesting or important.

I hear Siemens’s question, “Hmm, how can I use this with students?” or some variation of it.

Everything strikes me as an avenue for building conduits of understanding. If I need to use Lady Gaga to show what it means to look deeply at a text, so be it. If I need to compare allowance and birthday money as a means for explaining gross mismanagement of educational funds, superb.

Different from Siemens, my brain doesn’t limit itself to students, but asks how anything can be used to build understanding for others. Even if an immediate use can’t be found, I’ll squirrel the new bobble away like an intellectual hoarder.

Every once in a while, I’ll hit a moment of frustration.

“Why does everything have to be about learning?” I hear from somewhere in my mind, “Why can’t things just be sometimes?”

In these moments, I hear a chuckle from somewhere else in my mind, “You’re cute,” a voice says, “Now, back to thinking.”


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