Sunday, December 4, 2011

Inconsequential Noticings, Ruptures & Lines of Flight

Coming through the Rye (2010, M.A. Reilly)
It is often in the seemingly inconsequential noticings that more profound meaning emerges.  This type of moment may be characterized as line of flight.  Steve Best and Douglas Keller (1991) say a line of flight is "the full fledged deterritorializing movements away from molar identity where cracks becomes ruptures and the subject is shattered in a process of  becoming multiple. This is the plane of creativity and desire, and also of death and destruction" (p. 100).

Hmm. A lot to unpack in that statement.

The other evening my son told me that a friend of ours who is also a middle school teacher (Mr D) is developing 'mad Minecraft skills.' The 'teacher' had recently joined my son's Minecraft server and is playing with others on the server--mostly boys from around the world ages 9 to 15.  Mr D, I am told,  entered clearly in the role of learner.
Son: Mr D is not the teacher on Minecraft.
Me: How so? 
Son: Well he's learning and he's quick, but he isn't a teacher even though, you know, he is one.  He's got mad Minecraft skills, though. 
Me: Not surprising. Mr. D is really bright.
Son: I know, but he's the learner and right now it's like I'm the teacher. He's building just like I did when I started.
Me: How's that?
Son: He's got this airborne farm going and he's got a huge mine. That's what I did at first, too. It's like he's me.
This one-minute exchange with a child as he heads off to bed gets me thinking about the perceptions of teacher and learner from the vantage point of student.  Mr D is in the process of establishing a gaming center at the middle school where he works and had asked if he might join Dev's server as a way to learn a bit more before he and his students begin using Minecraft in a multi-player setting. I recognized at the time that Mr D would be learning a lot as he thought about how this virtual world of multi-players might be enacted inside a school.  What I hadn't considered was Mr D's affect on the boys who are playing on the server, especially my son. 

James Gee and Elizabeth Hayes (2011) in Language Learning in the Digital Age, define characteristics of passionate affinity spaces, such as the multi-player game Dev and Mr D are playing. Gee & Hayes write:
We have claimed that out-of-school learning in passionate affinity spaces is competition for schools as we have traditionally thought of them. Learning in these spaces is organized quite differently than in schools. Often people of different ages are together. Different people teach or mentor at different times. The emphasis is on problem solving centered on a shared theme or endeavor, not on “content” derived from a discipline (p. 73).
Curious in weeks to come to see what develops as to roles inside this Minecraft world. Specifically I am wondering what spaces are created and filled when the more traditional roles of teacher and learner shift and alter? Do nontraditional learning spaces such as a Minecraft community provide different types of occasions for the production of lines of flight than traditional classroom spaces where teacher and student roles are maintained? What happens to roles when Mr D resituates the Minecraft community he is envisioning within a middle school environment? In what ways are identities that are composed inside the Minecraft community lines of flight that become ruptures within the school community as subjects are shattered in a process of  becoming multiple?

Wondering what you think about this.

Works Cited
Best,Steven and Kellner, Douglas (1991). Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. New York: Guilford Press.

Gee, James Paul and Hayes, Elisabeth R. (2011). Language and Learning in the Digital Age.  T & F Books UK. Kindle Edition.


  1. i think we can't do it fast enough.. rupture and rumble and notice the inconsequentials...

    not because we live in a hurry up society ... and/or that there's a buck to be made.

    but because our kids are craving spaces such as this.

    we all crave it too... our souls crave it.
    let's notice that.

    thank you dear.

  2. Yes, it is about the noticing and being in a place where noticing is even possible.


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