Boy in the Bubble revisited

Have the Paul Simon Anthology playing in the car and song 1 of disc 2 is the classic Graceland song, “Boy in the Bubble.”  In it, he juxtaposes the hard times humanity was facing alongside the wonder and amazement of technological advances.  In the chorus, he sings,

These are the days of miracle of wonder
This is the long distance call.
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo.
The way we look to a song, oh yeah.

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in the corner of the sky.
These are the days of miracle and wonder,
Don’t cry, baby, don’t cry.

Great song.

Hearing that song a lot lately – I don’t change the CD’s in the car that often – I am struck by how much you could add now.  The Internet, video skype, everybody writing, medical advances, the way the camera follows us from outer space, the way we pause live TV, and so much more.

We continue to live in “the days of miracle and wonder” (while still immersed in world conflict, tragedy and hate), but at what time will our education system change to embrace this?

How much longer can schools/administrators/teachers/parents resist acknowledging these amazing changes in technology and make the way our children learn reflect and tap into this?

I love it when music makes me think.



We continue to live in days for miracle and wonder.  What new items should we include in a new verse for this song?

What are the new “miracles and wonders”?

10 thoughts on “Boy in the Bubble revisited

  1. My favorite line in this song is even more true today than when the song was first recorded in 1987…

    “Staccato signals of constant information”

    It is the quote posted at the corner of my edublog portfolio, which is in sore need of updating.

  2. I’m sorry to hog your comment section, but I just read this and it reminded me of this post and of Paul Simon.

    It is part of this article.

    “Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.”

  3. beacantor brings up a point that I haven’t seen much about yet.
    The idea that, while today’s technologies have so much to offer authentic, relevant teaching practices, we need to figure out a way to deal with the fragmentation, staccato-like quality it gives to how we process information.

    Definitely something to think about…

    Oh, you’re making me think this morning!

  4. I am with you, beacantor and tracy. I find myself skimming long posts too. But then I just went on vacation and read a book each night…and it was AWESOME! It’s hard to believe that I “don’t have time” to do this while work is on. That’s one of the many things I love about summer…unplugging and reading books again.

    Maybe we just have to give ourselves a chance. Too often we read blogs with the purpose of “what will I get out of this?” and “is there something here I can tap into and write about myself?”

    But when we read literature…good literature…we can immerse ourselves in the language, the story, the description…stuff we often gloss over when reading online.

    And when we are immersed, we appreciate.

    I think Mr Friedman could read War and Peace…he just needs to disconnect and immerse himself again, which I imagine he finds little time to do these days.

  5. Dennis – what if we go beyond ourselves, us bloggers? When you write:
    “Maybe we just have to give ourselves a chance.”

    What about our students? On Learning 2.1’s post ‘What is Web 2.0?’ you wrote:
    “all of this particpatory web is not 2.0 to teens…it’s essentially always been this way. It’s 1.0 as far as they are concerned. It’s The Web.”

    If this is the case, and much of the web’s tools do lend a staccatatosis to our information processing abilities….well, then that is how teens read. Does text – poetry, literature, essays – have a role within this context, within this type of literacy? How can we balance things? How can we teach when it’s ok to process in a fragmented way and when to go deeper? How do we teach how to do this?
    hmmmm….I know…lots of questions! Not necessarily directed at you – just questions to the universe at this point.

    Here is the link to the post:

  6. Tracy,

    Thanks for sticking with this conversation, you’ve always got the big picture of kids’ well-being in mind…keeping the rest of us honest! 🙂

    I agree that is how teens read because their world is filled with texting, ICQ-ing, and sound bites. You ask whether the reading we know still has a role to play.

    My answer: yes it does.

    Exposure to “difference” is fundamental to building a successful learner/person. To concede that since they live in a different world implies that they shouldn’t be exposed to literature and writing and analysis, is no different than allowing teachers to completely ignore the technologies and learning styles of students today, saying all they need is the “way we did it as kids.” As advocates of technology, we can’t allow ourselves to fall into the opposite side, but otherwise identical trap.

    Both have value, both need to be tapped. Stretching the mind is ALWAYS a good thing. And understanding culture and thinking and the wonder of human ingenuity and creativity has to continue.

    See my post on the value of art for my thoughts on that value on a thinking scale as well.

    (I’ve just gone off on a tangent of parenting and teaching and setting boundaries for kids that they need, but it got long winded and WAY off the point, so I just deleted it…suffice it to say, that my mind is spinning)

    How do we balance, you ask? With engagement and passion and understanding, I think. We have to believe in what we teach – both the fragmented tech side and the “old-school” stuff. Because if we don’t, they won’t. And then, what’s the point?

    Do we teach how to do this? Sadly, I don’t think so.

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