My husband is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, and even though we’re a few years out from living that wild, wonderful, crazy existence of being in the military, we have children in the military now and still try to follow what is going on in that world.

One thing that never changes is the use of Jargon. No one does it better than the United States Military. A recent quote in the newspaper, from a Major (whom we know personally) talking about a bombing error by a pilot that resulted in a B-52 dropping a payload of 500-pound (non-explosive) test bombs on a local reservoir, points this out vividly.

Instead of saying the pilot and crew of this mission made a huge mistake, the Major said the crew, “lost situational awareness.” He didn’t say SNAFUED this one – but that’s another jargon story…..

At any rate, this terminology, “lost situational awareness” struck me. Happens to me all the time! I get to reading something on the web, it leads me to something else, which gives me another idea, and I try something else, which takes me on to several other links and videos, and podcasts, and illustrations, and I get another brainstorm about what to do with another set of students, and on and on and on and time goes away before I know what happened! I think that, for better or worse, my brain likes hypertext mode.

I see this happening with our students all the time, and I see how their teachers struggle with it. We want students to pay attention to the subject, topic, question at hand, and they get off on a tangent, following one link, one topic, to another – flying around and making whatever sense they can out of the bits and pieces they find. It’s like one huge smorgasbord of information, pictures, video, sound, and you can just get so much and get off on a tangent so easily!

So tell me, when I lose ‘situational awareness’ and get off on one of those hypertext brain trips, am I not still learning?

Views: 88

Comment by Connie Weber on May 3, 2007 at 1:43pm
What a wonderful entry!
"Lost situational awareness...." Gotta love it. It happens to me all the time. Or does it? Maybe we're just getting attuned to new situations constantly!
Yes, we must still be learning, even in hypertext brain trips!
Occasionally when I get off the obvious tract (read: get "absent-minded"), my son tells me, "Maybe you need to reboot yourself!" (That comes from the title of a Dilbert comic book.)
Thanks for sharing this!
Comment by Brett Hinton on May 3, 2007 at 2:12pm
Wonderful, insightful post! You certainly are still learning. I often could be accused of losing "situational awareness" too! I have to wonder though, the information available could consume us, there's just so much.That's my worry now and for the future. How do we manage the positive and negatives of the information? Situational awareness can be a good trait (as evidenced by your bomber story :) ), especially with respect to deadlines, goals, and objectives.

I manage my RSS feeds (try to), participate in social networks inside and outside of my district, and struggle to meet the other demands I have. Maintaining situational awareness can be crucial towards accomplishing things too. How do we help teach that, what tools can we use to better manage those, and where is the line?
Comment by Karla Murray on May 3, 2007 at 8:48pm
What a wonderful post! Dan Pink is so right on when he talks about STORY! I continue to be amazed at the connections we make on social networks that would never have happened otherwise. ~Karla
Comment by Tina Bulleigh on September 4, 2007 at 8:41am
Learning leading to more learning! Off tangent from the original target, sometimes . . . but what led you there was a quest for knowledge, to know "more" about something. Anytime the brain is actively thinking it is learning! It may have been that the original question was more of a surface level question and as you began searching, the you more realize that there was more depth to it than you originally considered. Finding out more about something, more than you originally wondered . . . now that is learning


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