Upon Further Reflection

Upon Further Reflection

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.

Wordle of Positive Comments by Cindyu
Wordle of Positive Comments by Cindyu

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!

8 thoughts on “Upon Further Reflection

  1. Thoughtful rewrite. I almost commented in last post, saying “I love the crazy ones, too – but they’re only 2.5% of the ‘diffusion of innovation’ pie. The trick is to share energy and ideas with the innovators and bring the goods to those still passionate about the content, not the innovation.
    You do that better than almost anyone in HE, so …don’t be crabby. Keep crazy-making and we’ll keep following.

  2. After reading this post, I went back and read the last one for context. Taken together, I think they both make some really important points. I remember being rather angry at (and dismissive of, I’ll admit) a lot of the comments that followed the Chronicle article.

    Your thoughts here connect pretty closely with some thinking I’ve been doing over the past few weeks, as well. It was going to be way too long for a comment, so instead it spurred my second blog post in a month. That has got to be some kind of record for me. Stop by and see if if you can. 🙂

  3. Why has the edupunk become a figure of negativity? All we wanted was retribution for our rug, man, it brought the room together. Don’t blame EDUPUNK, blame Jackie Treehorn—he started all of this.

  4. who cares what anyone thinks? you’re trying some stuff. some of it will work (for some people). some of it won’t. you’re trying, and that’s all that matters. the fact that you’re brave enough to try, and willing to take a (public) risk, speaks volumes. thanks for that.

  5. @ Jim The dude abides. EduPunk is not negative and I’m not saying that. I think my point is that I am committing to my own approach — and the outcomes can then be what they are. But, you are right, that damn Jackie Treehorn!

    @ D’Arcy Norman Its not that I care so much on a persona level, I am deeply concerned about the overall state of education and I feel like I sit in an interesting place to impact it — albeit on a very small and slow scale. If I get all cranky and stop doing what needs to be done then I am afraid change won’t happen and I’ll be on the people I end up loathing. I really do appreciate your comment … risk almost always = reward … and reward comes in many strange and unusual forms.

  6. @ Colleen Thank you for the kind words. The last two weeks have pushed me to think about how to walk up to the line, cross it, and then press people to talk about it — from both sides of that line. What I am after are more opportunities to get the other crowd to at least join the discussion.

    @ Stevie I will stop by and read the second post this month! The comments in the CHE piece were fine and didn’t honestly get me down. I am just really ready to see my own community in action this weekend at the Symposium. See you there!

  7. cole, if we didnt experiment and innovate, and risk glorious failure, then we would still all be teaching in victorian workhouses..
    re your twitter use in the classroom: the backchannel for me has become the main interaction with my students especially online in webconferencing where the constant stream of comments, questions, weblinks etc etc in the text box that accompanies my presentations makes me know they are listening, interacting, interpreting and analysing what i am saying – and i do just the same at conferences, googling references, diggoing weblinks, twittering the conference etc etc – how can we not expect our students to be doing what we do ourselves!
    so keep on pushing at the edges, we have to have maybe 80% of what we do with technology (or any other pedagogy) as stable, reliable and conservative, but that leaves 20% for experimentation, exploration, innovation and lets be honest, play!

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