There are two interdependent ways that you can enter the education discourse today, and infinite iterations of how these two ways can play out in your daily life.
The first is by dipping your toes into the global education reform movement discourse flowing online – follow educators on Twitter, friend teachers and surf Facebook posts, and check out the chatter. There’s a river of it, but don’t worry. Let it wash over you and just begin to notice what you notice. For a step-by-step technical how-to, this seems like a good place to start. But there’s more to engaging than just knowing how to connect.
As educators and people who are invested in what education could be, what you read will often mirror, or perhaps contradict, what you think about in your daily life. Who will teach my child or loved one? What will his or her education be like? How will this contribute to his or her long-term well-being?
When we mindfully tap in to social media, we notice experiences shared through posts, tweets, and comments that communicate an intense amount – but the first thing we may realize is that we are not alone.
You are most certainly not alone.
While social media can easily be a distraction, or perhaps even encourage what some call “faux-activism,” it will remain a vital mode of communication and vehicle for engagement in social movements. In his 2009 TED talk, Renny Gleeson proposed that the technologies we use will become the basis for a new shared experience which will, in turn, become the foundation for our new world:
“What we share becomes the context of the shared narrative. Becomes the context in which we live. The stories what we tell, what we push out, becomes who we are. People aren’t simply projecting identity, they creating it.”
Gleeson’s brief talk (it’s actually really funny — think “anti-social phone tricks”) ends with a heartfelt plea we could apply to educator use – and adaptation – of social media in the service of creating the kinds of communities we want to be a part of.
And so by reading and mindfully sharing our experiences and reference points through Facebook posts and ensuing comment dialogue, we can enter the discourse, beginning an evolution from educators and stakeholders into educator-advocates and -activists. The end? Not quite.
I did mention two interdependent modes of engagement. The second is a bit more analog than the first:
Communicating online is simple and convenient, but asynchronous online discourse is inherently limited. We must connect f2f.
Mindful online dialogue can enrich substance-based interpersonal connections, creating a basis for more incisive, insightful discourse when we actually meet f2f. Having confidence in common reference points, we can more quickly address nuance, in a medium better suited to engaging the degree of complexity we experience when discussing education reform.
In these conversations, we can toss back and forth different perspectives on not only what it means to be an educator in the time of the great GERM, but what it means to become more fully human through our service, side-by-side.
As we’re entering the Chinese Year of the Male Water Dragon, a time of dramatic ups and downs, I invite you to enter the discourse with me. We can enter having confidence in our basic wisdom as educators, knowing that our experience itself represents a wealth a larger audience is waiting to recognize.
We enter. We share by listening to others. We reflect. We enter again. We articulate the truths we have come to understand through our classroom practice and the generosity of those educators with whom we have come into dialogue. None of the other voices in the discourse have the combination of reference points you uniquely possess; no other voice has your particular experience; it is one of your unique gifts as an educator – or simply as a human being who cares about learning and our collective future.
That experience, that sense of care, are gifts you can share with the world.
We’re waiting for you.
@ChrisMazura / #occupyedreform