defines 21st century learning as making sense of the networks of public
life. She points out that the most valuable thing gained from America’s
top higher ed institutions isn’t the degree or the knowledge, but the
relationships and networks students have made in their time there. She
argues that building lifelong learners means “helping people recognize
how important it is that they continuously surround themselves by people
that they can learn from...[and] connect to new people on a regular
basis.” She fears that social media makes it too easy for young people
to sequester themselves into a narrow focus of like-minded people.
I agree with this goal, I would argue that surrounding oneself with
like-minded people is an important part of development that shouldn’t be
cut out. Solidifying one’s own identity requires finding role models
and others who reflect your values so you can live them and engage in
them. As educators, we can help young people take their smaller circle
for identity negotiation and widen it to open the way for brave, new
intellectual pursuits. The question is how can we do this best?
How can we facilitate the building of social networks? How do we support natural relationship building and encourage the expansion of this comfort zone? How do we reward and document this form of growth and development?