There are several statements within the 95th theses that seem to complement Wenger’s chapter on identity and are perhaps illustrative of the views of community from the authors we have read so far.
34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
This implies that there needs to be a level of common interests and regard for the people that create the community. In an education setting our focus needs to be on the students. We need to understand their perspective, their needs, their weaknesses, and how to navigate those concerns to enable and empower them to achieve greater things. We should put ourselves ‘in their shoes’ to understand their concerns. What do you want me to hear when I listen/observe/participate with you? How do you want this to inform me? Are you clear about your expectations of this communication? This is what I am hearing- was this your intention? What aren’t you telling me? What do you want me to do with this information? By understanding how they view education in our classroom, we can better educate them.
38. Human communities are based on discourse–on human speech about human concerns.
Human discourse is a powerful tool for the building of communities. It’s the association and communication of thoughts ideas, practices, and beliefs that draw people together to form communities. Wegner speaks of organizations fostering learning by sustaining communities of practice that make up the organization. Likewise, cluetrain talks of the need for companies to resist the urge of organizing from top down, but rather letting the community organize themselves and create their own practices.
95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
Learning happens regardless of the structure we impose upon education. Wegner argues that learning happens as a result of participation in community, and that learning is not something that is separate from the “real world” or only happens during special time set aside for education. Along these lines, the cluetrain manifesto talks about the power of the communities formed of network connected people. Cluetrain is arguing for the power of participation in communities. We are constantly seeking out opportunities to engage in the kind of learning that makes us valuable to the communities we interact with. Engagement provides meaning through practice, practice informs perception, perceptions define experience and significance.
The glaring similarity and commonality between Gee, Wenger and the The Cluetrain Manifesto is the need to decentralize the creation of conversations that form community, identity, and design. All authors seem at first glance to argue for a need of a more egalitarian approach to not just learning and business but daily life. A closer look though may also lead one to conclude that they are not necessarily arguing for anarchy rather for more access to the creation process of the environment, a decolonization and a redefining of the roles. The question becomes whether or not such an egalitarian approach is possible? Can a the role of the teacher as an authority figure in the classroom ever really be eliminated? Can a community ever be a community if it does not have a leader? Lastly, can disruptive technologies fully be integrated into learning if their aim is to destroy the status quo and would they remain disruptive if integrated into learning?