Some may have noticed my absence from this space for well over a year. This was an intentional break inspired by my growing disappointment in how most people were choosing to engage online about the Common Core and its related instructional shifts, the New York State teacher evaluation system, and standardized testing. These are contentious issues. They are also important ones. I needed to be able to do my own learning and work away from the unproductive noise that so many were perpetuating around these topics.
Little did I know then how much worse things would get.
Spaces that once functioned like virtual think tanks and idea boards are campaign offices now. There is little learning going on. Far too often, questions are posed in an effort to root out mistakes in thinking and weak lines of reasoning. The intent is to expose people and diminish them in order to win rather than engage one another in genuine debate. People I once respected and looked up to have resorted to mocking the thinking and the work of those they disagree with. Kind, compassionate, and hard working teachers are being bullied for sharing the work that they do and celebrating their successes. It’s a very different world than the one I left a little over a year ago, and I’m still deciding whether or not I made the best decision when I began participating again. When smart, powerful people who know better resort to fear mongering, fact manipulation, and shaming in order to win allegiances, it’s easy to lose all hope–not in the standards, but in those who seemed to have more integrity once upon a time.
Reasoned perspectives that inspire problem solving are so few and far between right now that I’ve taken to bookmarking them when I find them. I’m hoping to grow a collection. If you can recommend another informed post or article that includes recommendations that might lead to respectful resolutions, I’ll hope you’ll do so here or in any other space I meet you in–even if you assume that I might disagree with the perspective of the writer. More and more, I’m caring less about the stances that people take and more about how they communicate their messages and engage with those they disagree with.
I’m grateful to thinkers like these for keeping a virtual light on for me.