Week 2 Reading Response

I was very surprised by all the common themes I was finding in my readings this week. From our Lankshear & Knobel readings to Kris Shaffer’s “An Open Letter to My Students” and my interest-driven article, Fredric Neuman’s “Determining What Is Normal Behavior and What Is Not,” the common theme was remixing. Whether it was media, learning or normal/abnormal behavior, remixing and mashing-up appears to happen so frequently that sometimes we’re not even aware that we are doing it.

This week, our focus in Lankshear & Knobel was all about media and cultural remixing and how remixing and mash-ups allow individuals to participate in and reshape their cultural discourses. As genres like fanfiction and musical mash-ups grow, it seems to shift the ownership of these cultural artifacts more into the hands of the people creating new spaces around these artifacts than the original creators. Who owns an idea more – the person who first brought it to life or the people who took that idea, expanded it, turned it this way and that, and breathed a newer, richer life into the idea?

Kris Shaffer’s “An Open Letter to My Students,” in my opinion, expanded on the concept of remixing from an educational point of view. He understands that in order for students to learn, they not only have to understand what facts/skills they need to know, but they have to understand what they can do with those facts/skills. To do this, they need to learn the skills of how to participate in their own learning. A speaker at a conference I recently attended spoke of the difference between (I’m paraphrasing here and unfortunately I can’t remember the speaker’s name) “knowing the steps of the dance and hearing the music.” When learners “hear the music,” they stop thinking about the 1-2-3-4 of the steps and start thinking about all the different dances that can come from the same music.

In my interest-driven reading, I wanted to look at what the definition of “normal” is according to the scientific community. In his article, “Determining What Is Normal Behavior and What Is Not,” Fredric Nueman theorizes that “normal” behavior is dependent on the context in which it’s being viewed and that all “abnormal” behavior is included in normal behavior but is only abnormal by the degree to which it is expressed. While it’s not a great definition, it got me thinking, once again, about remixing. By this definition, abnormal behavior is normal behavior that has been remixed to where it sticks out as being different. Our personal experiences and cultural discourses profoundly influence what is “normal” and that as those experiences and culture change over time, so does the definition of “normal.”

There was a lot of great food for thought for me this week that I need to keep pondering about. I think, contextually, some of the connections I’m seeing make not make sense to everyone. Right now, they make sense to me and that makes it valuable for me.


P.S. Love this video as it inspired me to go into graphic design which led me to instructional design. Great points in it about remixing, mash-ups and value.


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