Two articles critical of teachers blogging and tweeting have appeared in the TES this week. One of these, by @adibloom, suggests that teachers who blog and tweet will simply gather a clique of like minded people and not engage with anything which challenges their point of view. The other, by the secret CEO, says that teachers should stop blogging and tweeting as it takes time away from what they should be doing, namely honing their practice.
Call me a cynic, but I suspect that what the writers of these articles really dislike is that blogging and tweeting give ordinary teachers power. They give ordinary teachers the tools to challenge some ideas (often rehashed 1960s progressive ones) which had become orthodoxy in education, just at the time when schools started creating new SLT positions such as head of pedagogy or director of teaching and innovation.
Some years ago now, I remember hearing a guru on a staff CPD event talking about learning styles and how he was proud that, in his classes, all students were seated with a card saying what their preferred learning style was. I remember feeling uneasy about his ideas, but this was in the days before I had heard of blogging and tweeting and like most teachers I had no time or inclination to research the subject in detail. Had I been unfortunate enough to work in a school where the latest fads were imposed on staff forthwith, I would have been obliged to seat my students with cards saying what their preferred learning style was. Doubtless I would have acquiesced, not knowing any better. Tweeting and blogging give ordinary teachers the tools they need to challenge misguided fads. I wrote a tongue in cheek post about this earlier, A chat over the custard creams.
But it’s not just about the tools to challenge ideas, it’s also about gaining ideas. If I see an idea I like, I can try it out. I found the blogosphere particularly useful when the government abolished national curriculum levels and I wanted to find an idea which I felt would work for my subject. My reasoning was to get in first with an idea that I could put to SLT, rather than wait to have something imposed which I might not like.
The accusation that people who blog and tweet simply collect like minded people to follow is only partially true. Of course, we all like finding people who seem to have similar thoughts and a similar philosophy of education to our own. But in my experience, that does not put people in a bubble and I have engaged in amicable twitter discussions and arguments with people who have very different views to my own, about the place of grammar in KS2 SATs, for example. From what I can see, it is only a tiny minority who “troll” and give out personal abuse. I am disgusted by this as much as anyone. That being said, there are some people out there who seem to regard anyone disagreeing with them as abuse, but that’s another story!
Summer’s nearly here, what’s not to like? Let’s celebrate the empowerment of ordinary teachers!