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Sarah Evans CCR:732 Patrick Berry 21 February 2013 The Key: “Collaboration by Difference” As a first generation college

student doing advanced studies, I’ve often felt like one of the “Strangers in Paradise” described in Jake Ryan and Charles Sackrey’s eponymous book. By getting an associates degree at community college before transferring to the University of Scranton and then getting accepted to Syracuse for me MA, I’ve had theoretically less rigorous or at the very least non-traditional training compared to my peers. I’ve had to use my own personal experiences as a primary source of knowledge, to help me “ground” concepts and assimilate them into my knowledge base. I’ve felt less than worthy sometimes because the background of my knowledge is typically very different from that of many of my academic peers and I often rely on personal experience to guide my learning in school. However, it is people like James Paul Gee and Cathy Davidson who make me feel like my background can actually be beneficial, both to me, other academics, and the general public. Since the rise of science, personal experience has been considered a less reliable source of knowledge, as Gee points out: “Science took away a good deal of meaning and authority from everyday people’s observations of the secular world. The secular world became the preserve of experts whom everyday people had to trust” (53). So, not only did science help squash the legitimacy of people’s everyday experiences, but it indeed took away some of their agency to learn holistically. Students are often punished for

Gee notes the rise of “passionate affinity spaces” where people are self-motivated to learn about subjects or skills in which they are personally interested.“mak[ing] inferences about the text[s] based on their experiences in the world” such as on standardized tests like the SATs (Gee 68). offline as well. learn how to record and edit audio (an daunting task in itself). I used the internet to learn a whole new skillset that I would have been hard-pressed to easily find within my own social network. These spaces are more prominent in our digital world. meaning people share knowledge with others based on their own diverse experiences and personal databases.” I could understand why some people hate formal schooling and resist literacy in general. and reputation and then move out of the space to test their newly gained knowledge in the “real world”. I have a personal example in that I accidentally became involved in freelance voice acting and needed to refine my speaking skills. I learned nearly all of these skills through youtube tutorials. Though people can try (by citing their credentials). Who wants to be told they are interpreting their own world wrong? Davidson and Gee both underscore the importance of understanding personal experience as legitimate knowledge to encourage different types of learning and disseminate the “wisdom of the crowd” (Gee 45). blogs. among other feats. and do public relations for myself. I think my . Gee proves this by providing the examples of Jade and Jesse and their experiences in the video games Sims and Second-Life. skills.When people’s own experiences are continually destabilized by the word of “experts. forums. but existed pre-internet. experts tend not to exist in these spaces. In these spaces ‘knowledge is distributed” (70). and reading the narratives of other voice actors. People can become experts within the space through building their knowledge.

culture. Further. and how to edit words together (and apart) aided my language and comprehension skills in general. perspective. and insight. the tertiary skills I learned about how words sound in sequence. . age. When I was learning from the crowd-sourced knowledge on the internet. ability.experience illuminates Davidson’s assertion: “Collaboration by difference respects and rewards different forms and levels of expertise. It is the complex of literate practices that I learned within an around my search for instruction that helped me form and succeed in my own unique niche in the freelance voice acting community of which I was involved. treating difference not as a deficit but as a point of distinction” (Davidson 5). I was able to learn better how I could make things work for myself by having the diversity of opinions and experiences to consider.