The kids seem happy to go along with this, although they evince very little interest in each other's lives, and certainly don't see each other as potential teachers.
I was reminded of the truth of this, and of the connection with blogging the other day when I was (briefly) telling a friend about blogs and blogging and why I (and a lot of other people) found it so interesting. I told her about comments and how conversations can grow and blossom, and interconnections are made. She understood this well. I then told her of some of the difficulties I'd encountered in introducing students to blogging. One difficulty seems to be that students are not familiar with the idea that they can learn from each other. I have students practice in pairs or small groups a lot, and I encounter resistance to this from students. "I paid good money to learn from YOU!" they seem to be saying (some people think so loud you can hear them). "Why you force me to talk to my Japanese classmate who speaks even WORSE English than me?! I won't learn anything that way!! Do you really know what you're doing?"
They seem unfamiliar with the ideas that knowledge is constructed, that meaning does not reside in words, or that learning is a social activity. They don't see their classmates as potential teachers.
"It cuts both ways," my friend said; "it means they also probably don't see themselves as having anything to teach their classmates."
A light went on in my head at those words.