Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Whom Do You Listen To? And Why I’m Hoping to Go to the US This August

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The only way to make borders meaningless is to keep insisting on crossing them – Lina Mounzer

Do we really listen to each other? Do we really listen to perspectives different from our own?


flickr photo by Theophilos shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Look at your Twitter and Facebook network. How many people in your Twitter timeline look different from you? How many truly have different perspectives than you? And when you read or talk to someone whose perspective is different from yours, are you truly being “open” to possibly changing your mind, or at least, understanding a perspective different from your own? How much capacity for empathy do we have, for ideas and people whose worldviews are very different from our own? How much hospitality do we have in ourselves, beyond mere tolerance, for this kind of difference? Are we are of the ways in which our power and our privilege versus that of others influences our conversations and our interactions? How is this digitally mediated, and what is the potential of the digital to promote or hinder or distort this? How much power do we have to disrupt and circumvent and resist the ways in which tools may try to distort our social experiences online?

All of these are questions I hope to be discussing soon – both in the upcoming Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute track I’m co-teaching with the wonderfully sensitive and generous Kate Bowles (Networked Learning and Intercultural Collaboration – read more about it here) … and in my class next semester focusing on digital literacies with an intercultural focus. Both of these have an intercultural focus. Because I believe that whereas the digital enables global communication, we need intercultural literacies (sometimes called competence, sensitivity, maturity, etc. but I just thought literacies now might be a cool term) and we need digital intercultural literacies – the digital and the intercultural, together, to be able to truly learn from and with each other online.

I just finished up my US visa application last week and have my visa appointment next week. I’m hoping to cross that border because I’m hoping to make a difference as a Muslim woman in Fredericksburg. I’m also giving a keynote with the wonderful Chris Gilliard which I’m truly looking forward to.

Both Kate and Chris are among the people I learn from and with constantly and their voices are voices that need to be heard in this world where the politics are so polarized and divided and where it seems no one is listening to anyone else.

There is no event I’d rather be this year than Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute – it’s part of my activism and the activism of so many people there. With keynotes by Chris/me, but also the important work of Sara Goldrick-Rab and Adeline Koh, and tracks on Critical Instructional Design by Amy Collier and Amy Slay, and one on Domain of One’s Own led by Martha Burtis and an intro to critical digital pedagogy by Jesse Stommel and Chris Friend. And if you can’t make the August 7-12 institute in Fredericksburg, there is one preceding it in Vancouver, Canada – with tracks on Critical Open Pedagogy by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robin DeRosa, and one on Digital Literacies led by Bonnie Stewart, and one on Writing About Teaching led by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel – and with Rusul AlRubail as one of the keynotes!

I don’t wanna feel helpless with the way the world seems to be moving… and this institute is the place I hope to be to make a difference and to have important conversations with people onsite and Virtually via Virtually Connecting.

I hope I’ll see you there… hopefully inshallah the visa comes through!

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