Perhaps its been the miserable weather here in State College or the stress of running the largest and most ambitious TLT Symposium ever, but I think I’ve been grumpy. Things are looking up … today the sun came out, the sky was blue, and to top it all off last night I got to hang out with our guest Andy Ihnakto and it was a blast — so much so that I think it calibrated my perspective a bit. Today I spent the day feeling the amazing quiet before the storm that rolls in tomorrow with the arrival of both keynotes — David Wiley and danah boyd. Both of these folks are people I have followed for years and both of them have had a huge hand in forming my current thinking. I cannot wait to hang out with them. Tomorrow is the start of a killer weekend and I am now mentally prepared for what is to come. Bring it.
After I wrote my last post I felt like I needed to go back and rethink what I wrote — after doing so, I almost regretted it. Here’s why — it was short sighted on several levels. If I am honest, the people at the Chronicle event last week were overwhelmingly positive with my message. So there were a few difficult questions tossed out — and that is where the reflection comes in. I can’t spend energy being defensive or uptight about that. I have to spend my time working even harder engaging those people in real conversations. It is my responsibility and I am willing to take that really seriously.
What the talks showed me is that people are interested. What the posts in the Chronicle space illustrated was something more powerful — that people are really interested in expressing their thoughts on the changes we are seeing on our campuses. If we don’t get beyond an us vs. them approach — and I think we all know who the us vs. them represents (or is perceived to represent). We need people pushing dialogue locally related to the stories that appeared last week so we can all come out of our labs, ivory towers, classrooms, and offices to really engage in some serious conversations or we can’t make progress. All I care about is moving the conversation forward — and my early reactions to my perceived inability to engage that audience goes against everything I believe in … and it sent me into a defensive mode. I believe in pushing people to talk and without real intelligent dialogue we are doomed to spend our existence in education living in a jacked up worksheet nation. We need to forget about the power struggles, the us vs. them mentality, the edupunk need to blow it all up, and spend time finding common ground. If we do that I believe there will be places in the academy for punking, rocking, chilling, reflecting, embracing, and encouraging teaching and learning.
Four of us were having dinner
and I threw down the paper with a curse.
And my wife said, “complaining doesn’t get it,
you gotta do something or you can bet it will get worse.”
–David Crosby, Tracks in the Dust
Upon further reflection, the issues are with me — not the world. When I say that I say it because I am committing myself to the notion of the conversation and the notion of breaking through the bullshit walls so many of us (and I am in that crowd) lean on — walls that make us safe and don’t push us to work towards shared meaning and understanding. We need to forget the no we can’t mentality and move into the future.
See you at the Symposium!