Lindsay's Story: Hypertext and Liberation in High School  9/17/04 - Article by Pamela Taylor

I love this article. That's not in the past tense for a reason-- I know I'll be coming back to this article as I have every time I'm in need of a boost of enthusiasm about hypertext. In the article, Pamela G. Taylor tells about how concept mapping and writing within Storyspace enabled a student to find her voice, to get a sense of her own authority and agency in a school that had largely encouraged passivity, and to connect her studies and her life by seeing how the ways that she thought for each corresponded and connected.

Thoughts don't always fit

That is why hypertext is important to me. In hypertext you can fit all the structures --all your thoughts and connections-- side-by-side when they don't seem to fit into the order you're asked for-- and thus figure out why they don't fit. You can see your thoughts, see how you think. It's the meta-level that is so hard to impart to students, and you can do it without getting abstract-- by simply doing thought-mapping in the classroom, as Pamela Taylor did.

One voice of many

That is why hypertext is so important to me. Because when you are given that freedom to think and encouraged to use it, you see that your voice is one of many in a positive sense-- it is a voice, and the one that's lecturing to you is but one of many, not the one. Multiplicity is everywhere. And when you get your voice, amazing things happen, as with Lindsay.

Good tech practice in the classroom

The article also outlines some fine teaching practice using Storyspace, and I never tire of stories of productive classroom experience. Taylor does so many things right with technology in her classroom-- she gives templates to students to cut out the technical overhead, she gives students their head with content, and she pays attention to that content, not just the form or flash. Here, though, is a superlative example of the human impact of the changes in thought that hypertext encourages.