IICLL-Hawaii2016 Theme: “Convergence and Divergence”
This open and exploratory theme of “Convergence|Divergence” asks at us to look at the many and varied collisions and frictions involved in the coming together of individuals, cultures, ideas, as well as teaching and learning contexts and approaches, that we negotiate as educators.
In language education we have best practices that can be seen as a type of convergence. We want a solid foundation to our teaching that is based upon important shared principles, but we also see many areas where beliefs diverge or where areas of interests are different. For example, over the years some teachers focused on task based language education, others are doing motivation research, and still others have looked at critical pedagogy. These are examples of divergence, but they are overlaid on converging values such as creating safe spaces for learners, respecting all in our classes, and having a deep commitment to our profession.
Take the changes in digital communication over the past 20 years. We have moved from the open World Wide Web of Tim Berners-Lee to a more contained online experience that is found in mobile phone apps or social media. Some decry this filtering into “walled gardens” as stultifying and robbing the future of open inquiry because when everyone accessed the same Internet, they could roam widely and make discoveries. However, as we are funneled into application silos that do not interact with each other, we become isolated, leaving the open bazaar of the Internet, and are–dare we say–forced to gather in niche communities.
Moreover, at each convergence and divergence is the possibility of connection. The connection or connector is the human intelligence that we apply to our creative work. It is our humanness that ultimately connects us whether we are converging or diverging. Are you on the inside of a supportive community that wants to make itself understood to those outside? Or, are you on the outside watching as schools of thought and competing values seem to draw colleagues in different directions? The reality is many of us find ourselves in both situations–continuously converging and then diverging.
This International Academic Forum can be the medium that brings us together to negotiate the vibrant appeal of openness and the power of a concentrated coherent view. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we can embrace the ebb and flow of these contradictions to better understand our way forward as we develop as educators.