13. Connections pt. 2 Text-to-Self & Text-to-World


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Well, here we are, Monday December 14th 2020, one week until we have two weeks off. We must tell you that in a normal year this break would feel physical but, as it is, this year it may be more mental. And as they say, this year has already been mental so a mental break would be appropriate. Today is Monday December 14th, 2020. There are only 17 more days of the year 2020. Today is a total solar eclipse.


If you want to experience Totality, that is the total solar eclipse, you’ll want to head down to an area just south of Valcheta Argentina. And honestly, being just south of Valcheta Argentina is probably as good a place as any, for the inevitable arrival of either aliens or an army of Bigfoots that must be queued up to help send 2020 away with some pizzazz. Because clearly a global pandemic and a coup against American democracy clearly isn’t enough for this year! Holla!


Hey, you just said “holla” again. I’m making a text-to-text connection. That is, I’m connecting between this podcast and the last three times you’ve said Holla in other podcasts!


It’s great how much you say Holla because it really connects with our generation. It’s like you really understand us and represent us very well. I feel very connected to you all because you clearly speak my language in a way that lets me know that everything is crunk. It’s also generationally affirming so... “you go girl.”


All of those things you just said are examples of text-to-text or text-to-world connections. That means those things connect to other things that aren’t necessarily “us” but are things we know about from other things. When you are in ELA class you will likely hear a lot about connections. In schools one of the main places, we learn about connections is in ELA.


Last week we talked about text-to-self connections. Those are the connections between things we read and our own lives. But we also learn about text-to-text connections. Those are connections either between different things we’ve read, or the ability to recognize patterns or connections within the same reading.


I’m glad you said that about the repeating patterns within writing because that lets me connect to music and in particular song lyrics. You can really see text-to-text patterns whenever you notice recurring lines in a song. For example, let’s take the song that really speaks for our entire generation, the Rebecca Black anthem, “It’s Friday”. We’re lucky to be represented by such high art.

Let me just remind you about the text-to-text connections in the chorus of that song.


It's Friday, Friday Gotta get down on Friday Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend, weekend Friday, Friday Gettin' down on Friday Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend

Partyin', partyin' (yeah) Partyin', partyin' (yeah) Fun, fun, fun, fun Lookin' forward to the weekend


How often does that line repeat in the song? Not enough if you ask me. Another pattern in the song is when the hero reminds us all of the common human dilemma,

Kickin' in the front seat Sittin' in the back seat Gotta make my mind up Which seat can I take?

You can’t underestimate the struggle and suffering that can come from choosing the right seat in your friend’s car. I would argue that this helped prepare us all for the global pandemic we now face.


And see there, you just made a text-to-world connection. When you connected the voice of our generation, with the struggle of where to sit in her friend's car, which she repeats twice in under 4 minutes, with the struggle of making it through this once in a generation global pandemic, you are making a text-to-world connection. And, might I add, an important one.


Mr. Manzo and his generation X wouldn’t understand the complexity of these connections. They only had artists like Tribe Called Quest and Nirvana. They never knew where to sit in a car. Sad. But still not as sad as millennials.


Connecting the music of Rebecca Black to the music of Tribe Called Quest and Nirvana is making text-to-text connections. Connecting the lack of songs that directly address the conflict of “where to sit in a friends' car” for generation X with the overall sadness of millennials is a text-to-world connection. And if you can do that, then you can connect anything.


Exactly, that’s how it works. You can connect anything. I mean it might be a stretch, and it may even violate the laws of artistic decency, as we’ve done here, but you can in fact do it. Making text-to-text and text-to-world connections can even be a fun game.


False. In fact, here’s a text-to-text connection game you can play. Take a character from a book. In this case we’ll start super simple. Hermione Granger. Take the first letter of the last name and use it as the first letter of the first name of another character. So, Hermione Granger can go to Greg Hefley. Greg Hefley can go to Han Solo. Han Solo can go to Severus Snape and double bonus for a double S and for bringing it back to the Harry Potter universe. You can play that game as a whole ELA class and see if you can get around to everyone. It’s pretty fun. You can also play a version with text-to-world connections using real life people or places.


When you are thinking about connections between things you are reading and things that have happened in “real life” you are making those text-to-world connections. These connections most often involve things and events people have experienced or are experiencing. When you use your empathy as part of this process you are deepening your connection.


Just to remind you, empathy means sharing in the experiences, perspectives, and feelings of others from different backgrounds, cultures, or situations. The more you practice doing this the greater amount of knowledge you are gaining.


A lot of what schools do, works to increase what may be considered “general knowledge”. Now, if you are asking yourself, wait, wouldn’t what someone considers to be general knowledge be heavily culturally biased in favor of those that share in the culture of the definers of what qualifies as “general knowledge”? If you are asking yourself that question then great, because I can assure you that our education system hasn’t asked that question in a long time, if ever, so now you’re ahead of the grown-ups.


General knowledge is often referred to as “background knowledge”. The wider the background knowledge, the more a person is often to be considered, smart, even if they are in fact super dumb, but just know a lot of stuff. Is that okay to say?


Probably not, the point is, rather than thinking about widening you background knowledge to appeal to a bias power structure or impress others, you may want to know that there can be personal growth in a wide background knowledge that would let you make many text-to-world connections.


The personal growth we are talking about can be found in everything, but it can most easily be seen in the arts and especially, comedy. So much of comedy relies on connections to other things. Comedians, sometimes referred to as “last-responders” are experts at making connections. They can look at the world as it is, and either address it as it is, or spin it against what it could or should be. Never underestimate the mental power of comedians. They see what we don’t when it is right in front of our faces. Also, with text-to-world connections you can understand things that reference other things. Music, poetry, dance, theater, film, literature, is based on its reference to other things. Nothing was “dropped from space”. Except maybe those new monoliths.

So, the wider your general knowledge, the more connections you can make, the more references you will understand the more you will find meaning in art, and maybe life. At the least, you’ll be better equipped for figuring out where to sit, in your friend's car. And that was a text-to-text reference to something we’ve already talked about and a text-to-world connection about real life dilemmas.


That’s how it works. So here are some ways to practice making connections by building some skills. For making text-to-text connections when you are reading something or watching something or listening to something, ask yourself, “what other books, or music, or films, or whatever, does this remind me of”?


You can also ask yourself, “How is this text or music or film, similar or different from other things I’ve read, or hear, or watched?” And to increase your text-to-world connections ask yourself, “what does this remind me of in the real world?” “how are the events in this story similar to or different from real life stories?”


When you practice doing this you will be building your brain’s power of making connections. And remember, all this practice with reading, music, film, whatever, is just practice for making connections with yourself, and with other people. And on that note, we do not have school next week, so we will not see you all until 2021. And honestly, come on 2021. Until then, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.


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