What is REAL?

I saw the future. I saw the heavens. I saw it all.

Steve has always brought home toys. Always. He has an even “kickstarted” a few of them and I remember the first iteration of this miraculous invention, I remember it. I remember being obsessed. I remember going go on and on about it to any educator who would listen. I saw the future of learning. I saw it.

I am speaking about VR. Virtual Reality. 

But it never really went anywhere and I could understand why. One, it was clunky and it only had programming that involved violence or sex, because violence and sex sells. And no educator was focused on this. AR a bit, but VR was silent.

But Steve brought home a newer version and it is “there,” but also, not there. It only lacks the most essential piece, connection to humans as learning is about connection, and it needs to be human to human. But it’s coming…

Side note: it is not just learning that is about human connection, but EVERYTHING. Happiness, identity, etc. You need people in your movie to justify that it is playing. So HUMAN connection is essential to any learning plan. The WHO over the WHY. 

So I tried it. And I had the opportunity to have more professional development in education than I’ve ever had. I learned how to use my “hands.” I basically learned to walk. I was a toddler discovering the world. All I had in front of me were blocks, virtual. All different colored blocks and I picked them up. It took a while but I did and I watched them drop. I watched how if I dropped them on a corner, it would stumble to a face. I was mesmerized by gravity. 

Very quickly the game gives you new toys. So many toys. It showed me paper airplanes, ping pong balls, and more. It was INCREDIBLE. I stumbled. I failed. I built a simple tower of blocks. I felt as proud as a three-year-old does. Look what I built!

And then I advanced onto a flying game. All of a sudden I was asked to jump out of a plane. Now logically I knew that I was standing on the floor, but my body seemed to not have that logic. I was sweating. I even dropped one of the remotes from the sweat. I slowly eased to the edge of the plane. I looked at my avatars to the left and right (my fellow jumpers). I looked to them for help. One gave me a thumbs up, but still, I couldn’t jump. 

It took me a good five minutes to jump as my logical brain and my emotional brain competed in what is real. Truly an internal battle of what is real. I mean I KNEW that I was in my house, but my body didn’t seem to have that same information as it was seeing and hearing a different reality.

I finally jumped. I flew. I was shaking and then almost vomited from the motion. 

But yet there I was still in the living room with two feet on the floor.

I share this story as what is REAL is questioned daily and rightfully so. We all believe we know what is real. We all use our senses to make sense of the world. We believe what we see and hear. Look at Jacob. He believes cancer is like a cold. He has no idea that this disease is lethal. In his REAL a broken arm is dangerous. Cancer as he put it is “lucky.”

And now we have fake news. We have entire populations of people with different REALS. Their senses flooded with a view very different than the one next to me. Even in the same house reality can be different. For example, in my world everyone (twitter, social media, news) is talking about the President’s dangerous language, but yet in my parents’ world they had not heard of his tweets like “LIBERATE MINNESTOTA!” When I brought it up at dinner a few days, they were hearing it for the first time. How can that be?! How can individuals hunkered in the same exact place, living the same exact life, can have such different views of the world? Different views of the REAL?!

And it again reminds me that our understanding of the world is so limited. That our senses are not enough. That even with the knowledge that I am in my house, standing on the floor, my brain can be tricked into FLYING and my body erupts in sweat and fear. How easily our brains can create a new reality with the information given. How we can so easily be tricked.

But, yet, we call it REAL.

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