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Creating Connection.


Watch this 5 min video then read on.

(Remember iGen students prefer processing pictures, sounds, colour, and video before text)



Historia de un letrero. (Story of a Sign)


The context in which we experience an event, regardless of whether we are passive views or active participants shapes our connection to that event and those in it. As teachers of the iGen student the challenge is to create a context that takes students beyond the zombie zone where they are desensitised by digital media.


Alonso Álvarez Barreda uses the sign to create different connections to the man and his limitations. "Have compassion, I am blind" gives the viewer permission to distance themselves from the man. To be desensitised. Consider that the word compassion comes from an old french word meaning "suffer with".  It is difficult as an adult to develop a real connection with someone whose suffering is outside our experience. Brain research shows that the tween-agers and teenagers of today are still developing the ability to understand or share the feelings of another. It is even more challenging for students to relate to the man and his limitations than adults who should by adulthood have developed their prefrontal cortex for processing decisions that affect others.


The second sign, "It's a beautiful day and I can't see it" moves the focus from the man's disability to the viewer's ability. To be able to understand and share the feelings of someone who can not enjoy the beauty of the day depicted in the film is within the experience of all those who are viewing the film.  The beginning of the short film, showing the rich tapestry of life in which the man sits creates the context where the viewer connects with the reality of the man's suffering. The viewer is able to suffer with him when they consider what they can see but the man is unable to experience. The context created by the second sign provides the connection that moves the viewer from the zombie zone to empathy.


The vision statement in the New Zealand Curriculum states that young people need to be connected. They need to be able to relate well to others, to have empathy. Digital media is a powerful medium to build connections, to create empathy. The challenge is to carefully craft the context in which digital media is used and not de-sensitise students by bombarding them with digital content.


Give credit where credit is due. Use the original film "Historia de un letrero"

shortened English version is available as an advert for Purple Feather. Much of the complexity of the five minute short film is lost in this version.


To view the tsunami in Japan from a context that creates empathy go the following youtube clip. The clip is shot from a school.


Related Resources:

iBrain - Small and Vorgan

Understanding the Digital Generation - Jukes, McCain, Crockett. 2010

NZ Curriculum Document.