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“SCAFFOLDING” by Seamus Heaney

My Year 11s are being tested on poetry in their GCSE examination tomorrow:

“Scaffolding” by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

 And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

 So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me

 Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall,

Confident that we have built our wall.

Youtube link to Heaney reading the poem “Scaffolding” and explaining the context that it was written to smooth over a disagreement between him and his wife: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNYBwF7lKLA

This poem refers to scaffolding and  a bridge. This metaphorical idea is also used in the critical reading to discuss blogging: the architecture of participation, the scaffolding of the learning process, co-construction between technology / culture and the idea of layers in mediated communication. Key quotations are added below:

Meikle and Young P125 “Web 2.0 platforms have empowered creative audiences; they also, however, implicate their users within regimes of intellectual property. The Web 2.0 ‘architecture of participation’ means that we collaborate on building…” Meikle and Young P67 “architecture of participation through which users add value to the system just by using it”

Neil Selwyn P77/78 “a process referred to by psychologists such as Peter Woods and Jerome Bruner as “scaffolding”…There is now considerable academic interest in the field of “computer supported collaborative learning” where individuals collaborate and learn at a distance via online tools such as wikis, blogs and other online collaborative workspaces. As Leask and Younie (2001) argue, online technologies can support access to knowledgeable others beyond the learners immediate environment and can form an important part of the “scaffolded” learning process. In this sense learning is now felt to be a technology-supported matter of a collaborative “we think” or “we all learn” rather than an individualized concern of what “I think” or “I learn” (Leadbetter 2008b, Bonk 2009)

Rettberg P47 “it is clear that technology does affect the ways in which we live, technology does not appear out of a void and is itself shaped by cultural developments. This more moderate view has been referred to as co-construction, a term that emphasizes the mutual dependencies between technologies and culture.”

Meikle and Young P19 “Benkler (2006: 383-459) argues that all mediated communication involves three layers, which he calls the physical, logical and content layers.” Physical layer: device  – computer. Logical layer: software – connectivity html/http protocols that underpin the web. Meikle and Young P20 Content layer: “the messages and ideas, the information and entertainment, the stories, songs and images that we share….Developments and possibilities are not only adopted but also adapted.”

I particularly like this idea of the three layers: almost like bricks in the construction of the “wall” that Heaney describes….fingers crossed for the examination tomorrow….


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