interstitial spaces

interstitial |ˌintərˈsti sh əl|adjectiveof, forming, or occupying interstices : the interstitial space. Ecology (of minute animals) living in the spaces between individual sand grains in the soil or aquatic sediments : the interstitial fauna of marine sands.

I just kind of like the look of the word, actually. It has a certain mouthfeel.
More compelling still, we’ve used this a few times in descriptions of our work on professional development and conferring. It’s the place in between, the middle, the transitional, generally speaking. And that’s why it’s compelling. Things aren’t supposed to happen there. But all too often they do, so we should pay attention to them.*
One of the first really goofy theories of learning and the mind that I learned about in graduate school was connectionism. There, the mind wasn’t a repository of concepts or holders of memories. Instead it consisted of all of the wiring of associations, and the actual meanings were created in the spaces between. In other words, the mind didn’t make meaning itself, but the meaning transpired out of the in between connections of the associations. It was a theory that was both compelling in its novelty and complexity, and unnerving in its uselessness.
Here, though, in social situations, those in betweens are not happenstance. They’re real places that just so happen to be in between other spaces. They are hallways, lunch lines, and receptions. Bus stops, walks between classes, and random thoughts after an email or journal entry is almost finished, or barely begun.
So then a good question to ask: If we make just as much, or more, meaning in the interstitial spaces, then should we create such spaces deliberately? And if we did that, would they still be the in betweens? And if they weren’t, would they still have the effect we want? The goofy thing might be that in trying too hard to create or re-create deliberate spaces, you might ruin the good parts of those that were made up in the interstices.
I’m not sure I believe that. Just like I’m not sure about connectionism.

____*But all too often I begin a sentence with a conjunction. And I wonder what Ms. Sevcik would say about that. Yet, she did say you could do this sparingly, as long as you separated it from the rest of the sentence with a comma. But, I’m still not sure if I should rely too much on my 11th grade English class as a reference for all things, almost two decades [oh dear] later.


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