During the recent Education Festival down in the grandiose settings of Wellington College, I chuckled at A.C. Grayling’s suggestion that Twitter acted primarily as a less than salubrious toilet wall for all our opinions to adorn. In a great many ways I can totally agree with this perspective and am more than aware that the reach of this blog will only be a few of my close professional contacts rather than the educational community as a whole. There may be a couple of interesting responses to it or debates to had as a result of what is written, but I can see that it won’t have much more impact beyond my immediate world.
I just wish someone would tell the Twitter Preachers that. Those guys that get a bit of a following going and start spouting supposed aphorisms that seem less about the day to day practise of helping learning and more about promoting his or her own profile. I say this because I’m starting to see this more and more. Education professionals from all walks of life and varied areas of the system shout from the rooftops about newly invented pedagogy, tech, and / or personal experience as if everyone will hear it and will suddenly change up their practise to match their way of thinking.
I wrote in collaboration with @ recently about the tech evangelists and atheists. To push that theological theme further, I’m suppose I’m finding myself thinking of Twitter as less of a forum for inventive CPD practise and ideas and more akin to a high street where you find yourself sidestepping any number of people telling us all to repent our worldly sins through megaphones and placards. My problem with this is that sermonising in this manner only makes us cross the street to avoid being stuck in conversation with these types. If you ever were going to engage them in conversation, you either already agree with the message or you’re intent on trolling them in order to prioritise your opinion over theirs. Surely, this isn’t what it should be about. If we are intent on being the truly understanding and reflective role models we need to be as teachers it seems at odds that there are those who are so self-aggrandising in so public a forum.
I get why this happens though; Twitter is, after all, a place that forces a short response to concerns that really require far more thought than 140 characters often allow. It’s just that when I see helpful and interesting collaborative projects being undertaken on it (@, @, and @ to name but three) it can be upsetting to see so many more people and groups so brazenly attempt to sell you snake oil and call it the answer to all ills. Wading through examples of the rather privileged essentially patronising the rest of us by telling us how we should teach our learners is all the more distasteful when you can see through the offering as much as the individual.
Maybe it’s the summer. Maybe when we’re all back in school, people will have more pressing concerns than just firing off such missives. I may have issues with how the “Educating Yorkshire/Essex/Cardiff” series might be narrativising and therefore trivialising and fetishising the profession as a whole (another story, mind) but I do also see that it can bring something positive to the table. As such, in the meantime, I’m going to do my best to only say things that might be constructive from now on. I’m more than willing to offer any small amount of ideas or advice I can but trust me when I say it’s only ever ‘a’ way rather than ‘the’ way. I’ll bite my tongue long before I get involved in any sermonising on Twitter.
(Image taken from http://justmaths.co.uk/2015/02/15/preaching-to-the-converted/ – A good example of someone explaining how Twitter can be used helpfully!)