I went a year without writing anything for publication (or attempted publication) because I felt sure that anything I’d write would either be deemed too controversial or too specialized or too opinionated for someone who wasn’t an expert. I kept tossing around ideas but nothing seemed to pass that barrier.
But then, I did write anyway–in the comments sections of a hundred different blogs, spouting my opinions, telling people they are idiots, whiners, or unrealistic dreamers, throwing in inconvenient facts. As a commenter I am not nice and am often disrespectful, two qualities (“not nice” and “disrespectful”) that aren’t given nearly their due in online discourse. Over time, snark and sarcasm with decent data can change a lot of minds. But while I’m a mean and disrespectful commenter, I am not, in fact, a mean and disrespectful person. No, really. And comments don’t leave much room to initiate ideas, to talk about the fun side of teaching, or bring up things that no blogger noticed. So as a New Year’s resolution, I decided to try blogging.
It’s very dangerous for teachers to engage in any online discourse. I’ll take the usual precautions, but I wish there were clear rules about what teachers can and can’t do. Right now the rule is “If your administrator finds out and doesn’t like it, you’re in a lot of trouble”. I’m also not a natural blogger; I like the many to many discourse format of forums much better than blogging. Hence the resolution to blog, to keep me focused on writing something daily, or close to it.
Education is filled with unpleasant realities that “experts” routinely ignore. Some realities are ignored because the experts have a policy idea they want to sell (literally). Other realities are ignored because it’s ideologically inconvenient to everyone. Still others, however, are ignored because our world is constructed in such a way as to make those realities illegal, or at least actionable. The National Association of Scholars published an anonymous article by a teacher who called some of these realities The Voldemort View–The View That Must Not Be Named. Hence I will call these realities Voldemortean and, well, name them anyway.
Many Voldemorteans speak with what almost seems like glee. They don’t mean it that way; it’s more a “Hah! got you!” to the ignoramuses who refuse to even acknowledge what must not be named. I will not. I don’t see the Voldemortean realities as good or bad. They just are. And we won’t get anywhere until we start focusing on what these realities mean.
But education has all sorts of other realities, particularly the realities of teaching, and I’ll write about those, too. I love teaching. I do it as my job, I do it in my spare time. For most of my life, I’ve been paid for providing information and giving advice–and, for most of my life, my clients ignored me, even though they agreed with me. In contrast, my student “clients” listen to me. Not every day, not every class, not all of them. But the percentages are much higher than I ever saw in corporate America. I’m hooked.