Emotional Surplus?

Cross posted at Education Debate

I’ve been a strong advocate for shifting school’s narrow focus of writing to include more contemporary forms like video. It’s clear this skill is going to be essential for our students to communicate in a YouTube world.


Two years ago I wrote a post about the Best Job in the World. My argument centered around the idea that we need to get on this. I loved Stephen Downes response:

They are, of course, creative and imaginative and effective. Now for the kicker: ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.

This phenomena of requiring people to create videos to “show their stuff” is growing and will no doubt continue not just as a cutesy fad but as standard fare in job recruitment, college entrance, dating and pretty much any other purpose you can imagine.

Today I viewed the video by Alye Pollack.

What struck me was the simplicity and sincerity of the video. Low production but high impact. Here’s someone who understands how to reach an audience.

In addition to the students not being able to produce something like this ten years ago, we can respond them in ways we couldn’t ten years ago.  With some, it’s the click of a button to show a sign of support. Not much effort but when thousands or millions participate, it does demonstrate popularity if nothing else. In the case of Alye Pollack, it seems we can and should do more. The comments left on her YouTube video are for the most part very supportive and encouraging. I hope she takes solace in that. But I continue to wonder what more can be done. From her video, she says she loves her school. As is the case often, parents and adults struggle to resolve these issues. While we all can do better, I wonder, if like this case, the broader community, indeed strangers could help?

I don’t know what that means. I’ve contacted her parents via twitter. There’s also an email and Facebook page. The vigilante in me wants to send a message to all the kids at her school that are causing her pain. I doubt that’s the response we should take but what could we do as a community of caring adults to support and aid these situations? Shirky talks about cognitive surplus, maybe there’s some kind of emotional surplus that could be garnered? Facebook pages and comments are useful but I maybe there’s more. If there is, I want in.

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