The Disconnection Myth - PART II

myth |miTHnoun

traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events

a widely held but false belief or idea


Is it possible that a vast majority of people alive today are afraid of (or closed to) the idea that we are in the middle of the major revolution of human development?  Is it possible that what we’ve always preached about “being connected” was simply a unanimous, unconscious directive to connect to the machine—to the existing synapses of society?  Is it possible that we never meant for our youth to connect outside the existing junctions we’ve built?

And is it possible that we accidentally built an equity machine, and now many of us, especially those in/with power, are afraid to give in for fear of losing our status as leaders, guides, teachers, rulers, gatekeepers, and owners?

My favorite parts of the definition of the word myth are:

1. “early history of a people” and

2. “typically involving supernatural beings or events”

We are in the early history of a people—a connected people.  My argument here is that the exponential growth we’re experiencing is not being matched by an exponential growth in wisdom.  We aren’t digging deeply.  We are building bridges and vehicles faster than we can sanction the rules of the road.  We aren’t modestly reflecting each morning before we build the next bridge.  

We haven’t prioritized the truthful version of our progress.  

This disconnect is not within our youth, but rather within our governing bodies, our leadership, and our parents.  Because we’re subscribed to a myth about our youth, we are predisposed to a blame mechanism when our youth enter the equation.  The “supernatural beings” in the definition of myth are misguided manifestations of our own young people, and the “supernatural events” in the definition are confusing reflections of our own inability to digest global forever-change.

If our youth are in some way disconnected from the old junctions of society, then they are entitled to “declare the causes which impel them to the separation” (Declaration of Independence).  They are doing just that.  They are sharing intellectual and emotional space, art, beliefs, opinions, truths, libraries, and hardships.  And it has become theirs.  We’ve built something that we cannot rule, and they are declaring their independence.

Welcome to the equity machine.  Welcome to the shift.  Welcome to the connected world, a world where our youth can learn, play, communicate, and create without you…

…but they can do it a hell of a lot better with your partnership, guidance, and wisdom.

They’re gonna cross that street.  You might as well walk beside them.  Hold they’re hands if you must, but don’t watch from the sidewalk, yelling that they’re doing it wrong.

Close your eyes and consider that you are a factor here.  Close your eyes and reflect on how you’ve treated the idea that our youth are disconnected.

I’ll wait.

Now, open them and see the truth: that this is the most connected society the world has ever seen, and our youth are in front of you leading the charge.  

Just like adolescents of old, every single member of our youth are making mistakes in a new frontier.  They’re mapping the wilderness; who can blame them for making mistakes?

The disconnection is within us—the leaders, guides, teachers, rulers, gatekeepers, and owners.  

But that too can be a myth.  If you make it one.



The Disconnection Myth (A Working Idea in Progress)

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.” – Brené Brown Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

If I heard anything in college it was the phrase “it’s all about connections.” I often wondered how in the world I would find my way when I couldn’t nail down what I wanted to do with my life long enough to make the connections it seemed I so desperately would need to get in the door. The what of my path was always, (and still is) a bit tricky and makes me feel uneasy sometimes but the why on the other hand was never an issue. I always knew it was about people. More specifically, I always knew it was about helping people. It was about the constant pursuit of living for others, beside others, with others. It was about bridging the gaps between people and the hope of leaving the world a speck better than when I entered it. It was about connections. This truth still exists. It is still one of the most important factors to finding, and becoming our best selves. It is still all about connections – it’s just that the definition of the word has changed. And that is a good thing, a really good thing. We have the chance to flip the script. To shift the paradigm. To make the good the only – and connections is how we are going to do it. It is no longer just about who you know, who your parents know, where you were born, where you went to school. All of those things are factors, yes but they are not the deciding factor. They no longer have to make or break you, or your path. All we have to do is become connected locally, globally, and digitally, person to person; in all of those spaces. I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about connections- and a lot more time in the world of education defending my stance on the critical need for people (all people) to be connected locally, globally and digitally. I am constantly asking a lot of questions about what it means to be connected and am usually most drawn to how we are connected to each other, what is created because of those connections, and the illusion that connection is a privilege and/or choice. But before we get into any of that we have to start with the why of it all. Why do we desire, seek out, and identify through connections? Because connections are the thing. The fear of disconnection disappears when we realize not only are we all worthy of connection, we are all capable of it on more levels than were ever humanly possible. So go ahead: get connected. Even more so than that, embrace connection. I dare you. Stop believing the myth that we are simultaneously becoming more disconnected as our world is allowing us to be more deeply connected in every aspect of our life. The majority of our students have already figured this out whether or not you decide to join them, but I’m betting on the fact that most of them hope you will.

- Beth 


No Big Deal. A Minor A.M. Reflection.

The Universe has handed me a lifelong partner and lover who understands every nuance of my soul and is so complex that I will never bore of exploring her.

The Universe has handed me two children whose beauty has brought me to my knees and whose curiosity has given me purpose beyond compare.

The Universe has handed me a family who loves and respects me while offering me unlimited companionship, laughter, and guidance.

The Universe has serendipitously, unbelievably offered me three other Daniels who form a perfect square with me and are so completely, sacredly connected to each other by music, learning, and creation that even when we’re all together it still seems like myth.

The Universe has offered me a Beth to inspire, push, challenge, and provoke the inner passion in me dying to find daylight.

The Universe has handed me childhood friends galore who have transcended all obstacles to become manhood confidants.

The Universe has handed me the clarity of mind to see problems to which I openly, confidently see clear pathways to solve and a body through which I may mobilize my mind.

And The Universe has handed me you, my student. You, you singular YOU. The Universe has delivered us here—here in this space—to celebrate and grow and change and battle and rattle.

Feel me?

Now what?


Creation = Bliss

I saw someone tweet recently that “creation is a prolonged period of bliss.” I then experienced a full day of students inside and outside the classroom who seemed unfulfilled with their learning experiences and even their lives. Upon reflection, I see that each student who exhibited unhappiness was seated firmly in a chair or standing in solitude at the foot of my desk. In all accounts, the students had actively refrained from creation and all accompanying getup.

To experience the bliss of creation, one must move. One must be equipped. The chair might be a part of the equation, but it’s not the primary tool. The main tool just often happens to be lower than standing would encourage. Further, solitude might be a part of the equation, and it IS a tool. But it’s not where you’re frequently gonna find output, especially in a public high school.

We as teachers have a job to do, and it isn’t in a course of study. We must model and encourage creation…but we must also openly exhibit that bliss that creation can offer.

Don’t be afraid to be elated.

Don’t be afraid to have an open crush on creation.

Don’t be afraid to cheesily yell a silly slogan when something highly shareable is being formed.

Silliness is evidence of bliss. Always has been.

Bliss is evidenced by elation. Always has been.

Elation is evidence of progress. Always has been.

Progress is evidence of dreaming. Always has been.

Dreaming is evidence of mindfulness. Always has been.

Mindfulness is evidence of learning.



Meet one of my students.  She lays it out with the above photo and the following caption:

"I am free, no matter what rules surround me.  If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them obnoxious, I break them.  I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

Perusing my Instagram feed yesterday led to a simple reminder of an old discovery: our youth have a tough job.  They are faced with conflicting signals about morality, connection, Internet usage, identity, and freedom.  School, home, and privacy are so incredibly different in the life of a teenager.  They are sitting on a rocket that is tied down by obnoxious rules and traditions.  

They are sitting on a rocket that they must cut loose.  

You won’t tell if I hand them the cutters will you?  

Once our youth realize that they are the conversion factors—that they are the agents of truth—then they are liberated.  

And so are we.



Youth Converts Culture @ Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Austin, Texas 

Class of 2013!


system.exe (by Daniel Whitt)


c:>runas /user:SystemAdmin

c:>cd c:\programs\systemcommands



A system pushes and pulls with near-perfect tension,

  turning belts and smoothing apprehension.

It minds each part as much as can be expected

of a system.

A system circulates and breathes with attentive pressure,

  ensuring reaction to environmental stressors.

It pushes out free radicals as often as could be expected

of a system.

A system has purpose if, by its choices, it can produce

  the same outcome in different ways in the same environment.

Its purpose is assessed by something resembling that

of a system.

A system may have no purpose of its own except to move parts—

  to make possible the functioning of a whole.

It remains subsidiary yet totally critical to the survival

of a system.

A system has forces that hold its pieces apart, 

  that maintain distance to prevent collision.

It uses hidden gravity and dark energy to prevent destruction

of a system.

A system can be designated to outlive its neighbor system

  so that the neighbor must be replaced earlier.

It can fulfill its desired purpose at the expense

of a system.

A system can prioritize worth of a particular part

  by providing that part endless opportunity to fail.

It can define failure as interference in the repetition

of a system.

A system can—if driven by something unsystematic—

  create unsystematic results that appear spontaneous.

Its uses can be reappropriated to redirect the purpose

of a system.

   a system.

   a system.

   a system.

A system can stutter and halt, and it can be resuscitated
  by the implementation of another appropriate system.

It can then perpetuate a growing weakness 

of a system.


c:>runas /user:DMWhitt

c:>cd c:\programs\systemcommands





Aaron Draplin is something else, ladies and gentlemen.

Lately I’ve been working on some contract work for the state that requires a large amount of design work on my end.  I’m not the world’s greatest designer, but I don’t have to be.  I’ve watched a few talks from Aaron Draplin, sole proprietor of Draplin Design Co. (http://www.draplin.com).  This guy is a burly, brash conduit of truth and a true soldier for beauty through simplicity.

In one of his talks, he discusses the street signs we see all over this great country of ours.  Maybe you’re not a design person; maybe you are.  It doesn’t matter because

everyone’s a design person.

When you see the same repetitive, boring, sterile signage day after day, you begin to feel that the world is repetitive, boring, and sterile.  And when a designer (or a company) contributesthe same old junk to represent themselves, they have missed a major opportunity.

Aaron Draplin calls this missed opportunity 


Not only are these companies and designers not making an impact, but they are actually subtracting impact. 

Think about that for a second.  

In an effort to turn on someone, a company—by using the same old dull strategies and imagery—can actually turn off impact.  Not only does this affect the business in question, but it also dulls the receptors of the customer. 

In this case, the customer will need to be shocked into impact…because they’re recovering from a deficit.  To create an emotional pileup large enough to affect feelings in the customer, the signage better be new, fresh, and simple…while also being shocking in some way.  The shock quotient is a relatively new factor because of all the pollution.  There’s so much pollution out there that the only way for someone’s receptors to pick up beauty is for that beauty to begin with shock.

I didn’t say I was happy about this situation.  I’m just telling you the truth about it.

Now, consider pedagogy.  How does this discussion relate to learning in the modern era?

In every way. 



Disconnection Notice

Lyrics from Sonic Youth’s “Disconnection Notice”

Did you get your disconnection notice?
Mine came in the mail today
They seem to think I’m disconnected
Don’t think I know what to read or write or say

Thurston Moore’s lyrics are likely referencing his personal experiences as a veteran of alternative rock.  Sonic Youth’s first record was in 1983.  He released this song in 2002.

There are people who think modern pedagogy is a joke.  There are those, especially educators who are veterans of the pursuit, who think every professional development opportunity is “just another thing.” They’ve seen trends come and go until a “modern” method actually looks exactly like one from the 70’s.  Like an old Sonic Youth record, these methods have appeal that feels like newness to young people; the older crowd sees them as vintage.

Can you empathize with these older educators?  Can you put yourself in their shoes and feel their frustration?  Can you imagine having an insight into this whole pursuit that disallows you from buying in with your whole heart?  Can you imagine feeling that a 25-year-old Amway salesperson is knocking on your door and trying to sell you a repackaged cleaning product with the same chemical makeup as Windex?

Now consider this: that Windex—whether repackaged and rebranded or not—always cleaned the glass tabletop. Because the glass was always cloudy.  The glass was smudgy, and Windex always treated it for a while.  And so did Shmindex.

But what if the glass was broken?  Would that salesperson still offer you a cleaner?