Gardener of Minds
Two years ago, I was invited to participate in an adventure that would change my life. This adventure was the New Media Faculty Seminar. In the Summer of 2010, this seminar was led by Dr. Garder Campbell – at the time, the Director of the Baylor Academy for Teaching and Learning – and joined by him were a group of about 10-15 faculty, staff, and a couple of graduate students that included myself. This seminar used as a text the New Media Reader, a book edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. This reader, according to the authors, is a collection of texts, videos, and other media that depict the history of the field of New Media, which has been developing for more than 50 years, but more than that, the experience of reading these texts, videos, and the discussions that flourished from those group meetings were the special thing. I have recently attended the ELI conference in Austin, TX where I was able to bask in the glory of Dr. Campbell, which inspired me to write this post. However, I was not the only one inspired to write about Gardner. Here is a brilliant quote from Professor Michael Wesch from Kansas State University:
If that quote by itself was not strong enough, he goes on to describe a conversation they had at ELI that is worth reading. He closes with another great paragraph that talks about the idea of living in wonder and inspiring our students – which should be the core of any conversation about education (instead of how much – more – should learning analytics be a part of education).
I wish Dr. “GARDENER” Campbell was still at Baylor, where we met, and that he could churn up the soil of my mind more often. I still very much cherish the moments we do see each other in person. In fact, my dissertation idea came out of an insightful moment with Gardner at the New Media Consortium conference last year. However, knowing that he (and people like him) exist, give me the hope that working in academia can still be a way of having a purpose in my life.
When Gardner left, we decided to throw him a farewell party. For the party, I created a graphic intended to depict him and what he stands for – and of course, including a Milton quote. We, his pupils, gave him a mounted copy (for his office) and printed out shirts for our own amusement. I still wear that shirt from time to time and always with a bright smile in my face because I always expect people to ask me who that person in my shirt is (and I could not be happier to share).
I am not a very good writer, and I always blame that on being a foreigner. However, the reason I am sharing this now is because I am once again involved in the Baylor New Media Seminar and I am looking forward to revisiting the texts that once illuminated my understanding of the world of today and how New Media came to influence it. Also, I look forward to blogging more often even though I have promised myself that I would do that many times before (without following through with the idea). The reason is because I want to, I need to, I ought to live with wonder. I want to, I need to, I ought to inspire my students. I do NOT want to be distracted and seduced by technology’s growing offerings of passive entertainment. I also hope to one day be a Gardener of Minds.