Today I broke. I started the day exhausted. I’m at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, staying up way to late. As the conference goes on, I feel less like a mathematician and more like a sociologist. I’m also participating in #moocmooc, the meta MOOC. I really only did it on a whim, a hunch that it might be what I need. Now I’m drowning in twitter messages from awesome people who are really thinking about participant education. It’s blowing my mind in an awesome way.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we know we belong in a space. In Davis Square, near where I live, if I walk into the Diesel, I know it’s a space for me, based on who is there — queer people and freaks. I’m comfortable. When I walk by the bar a couple of doors down, I can see from outside that it’s not a space for me. I don’t see anyone that looks like me, and too many people who definately don’t look like me.
It’s the same feeling in the two spaces I’m in right now. At the Joint Meetings, I’m in meatspace. There’s a bunch of geeks here, and lots of wierdos, but I am still struggling to feel like it is my space. I don’t belong here. I feel like a sociologist when I’m here, not a mathematician. I feel ashamed of myself, my accomplishments, my interests. I had a great lunch with a colleague today that really perked me up, but other than that, I feel like a fish out of water. Tonight, I’ll go to the reception for queer mathematicians, and maybe that will help. Mind you, I’ve had lots of awesome conversations with terrific people doing interesting things. But something is missing, something tells me I don’t really belong, and I think that something is me. I don’t actually want to belong here.
In the MOOCMOOC on the other hand, I feel like I’m at home. I’m with people that want to think deeply about the meaning of education, about why were are doing what we are doing and what it means to the world. People are talking about power dynamics, access, inclusion, networks, creating meaning, disruptions, learning as connecting and constructing, and more. I feel like I could have these conversations all day. I feel like I am with my people. I feel like I belong.
So thanks to @slamteacher, @patlockley, @NoamEbner, @petradt, @lrndeveloper, @EKSwitaj, @kirkmanne, @ARichmondFuller, @writingasjoe, @bonstewart, @jankenb2, @bernardotrejos, @reticulatrix, @Jessifer, @ak_leeg, @dalekatherine, @jonasthanatos, @SMUC_PSE_AP, @HybridPed, @cctaverna, @mhawksey, @martinlugton, @slrichter, @cutorad, @MikeAtkisson, @steadyblogging, @MOOCMOOC, @bdean1000, @HangnCurveBall, and @busynessgirl for helping me to create a space where I feel I belong. And thanks to the world of math and geeks that I was able to take the raw #moocmooc hashtag data and use it to automatically create a list of people to thank in Excel.