Strange suspicions

I’m frustrated. I tried to explain blogging to someone over breakfast. Here’s how the conversation went. 

Them: You’re giving your ideas away for nothing. Someone else could take your ideas and advance their own careers or take credit for them.

Me: My ideas aren’t that valuable. If someone benefits from them, great. They also aren’t all that earth shattering.

Them: If your ideas aren’t valuable, then why are people reading your blog?

Me: We’re a community of learners, interested in the same topic, education. We share our ideas freely, hoping to advance learning for everyone.

Them: Nope, there’s gotta be something in it for them.

Me: Can’t they just be like me? Hoping to discuss that which they’re most passionate about? Hoping to connect, influence thinking, learn something?

Them: Nope, other people aren’t like you. You’re going to be taken advantage of.

Me: I don’t want to discuss this any longer.

Did I give up too quickly? Are these just the most cynical people alive? Why was it so hard for me to articulate what this is about? I felt defensive and judged by people who have maybe read one or two posts of mine. And when I tried to show them how I’ve been linked on other blogs like Christian Long’s think:lab, forget about it, I totally lost the argument.

Them: What’s he hoping to gain by doing that?

Me: Nothing! He actually helps me because he directs more readers my way.

Them: For what? So they can take your ideas?

Me: I don’t want to discuss this any longer.

Maybe this is the same way our students feel when defending their use of social networking sites?

  1. Hey, Christian isn’t the only one who linked to you! Some of your fellow administrators have as well!

    (hint, hint…) 😉

    And yes, some people don’t understand the notion of a community of learners, but those are often the same people who don’t see a need to share lesson plans with colleagues… who think that they can close to the door and teach without anyone else knowing what goes on…

  2. I know I have weighed in on this in the past – but I really believe the “closed door” mentality of the many,many Thems out there is what leads people to look at education as the lesser profession!

    Education is my second career. I don’t often admit my previous career because I seem to get one of two responses:
    1. My God! You left doing that to teach? Weren’t your parents disappointed?
    2. One of the 1001 jokes about the former profession that abound.

    I love teaching – and I love what I do now with curriculum and professional development. Yet somehow – I have been deemed to have taken a step backwards! And I think that is because too many educators are afraid to share their expertise with others. Yes – I said expertise!! How many teacher/administrators really feel they have expertise? Why aren’t they trumpeting it? Sharing it? Helping others to view our profession as a profession?
    Thank you for blogging about yours – you help us grow as a profession and that is why others link to you!

  3. A bazaar similarity, here’s how my conversation this weekend went:

    Them: You are on MySpace; I would never be on MySpace. Don’t you read the paper?

    Me: Yes, I am on MySpace and I don’t see much difference between that site and blogging. Some of the accounts are amazing. You should see how creative and expressive MySpacer’s are.

    Them: Creative? All they do is swear and threaten each other. It’s a waste of time.

    Me: Think of it like magazine subscriptions. You purchase the magazines that best represent your current interests. Some you buy, some you don’t, and some you wonder why anyone would.

    Them: Well, at least magazines are READING.

    Me: These sites are reading, and writing, and typing, and computer language, and …

    Them: It’s not the same

    Me: MySpace just happens to be more teen focused because students are more techno savvy and discover Internet possibilities quicker than us.

    Them: It’s just a waste of time and besides, giving out personal information will get you in trouble.

    Me: I don’t give out personal information and discourage kids from doing that too. But most of the users don’t give out truthful info. It’s another dimension of MySpace.

    Them: What is this world coming to?

    Me: I’m not sure where this world is going but we had better keep a close eye on these kids, they have some excellent ideas. You should really talk to your son about seeing his MySpace account.

    Them: My son will NEVER be on MySpace!!

    Me: (thought only) Too late

    No matter where you are or what career you choose the common thread for success is communication. We need to communicate, within a classroom, a school, the education field, with parents and most importantly with the students. Blogging is a way of doing that. People who don’t communicate, don’t share strategies and ideas, and who don’t ask questions are inhibiting their own futures – how sad.

  4. All right. I’ll bite on this one, Kim. Haven’t been reading in a couple weeks, but had a chance to hop in to catch up on some of my blog reading, and “Them’s” ideas here are pretty darned discouraging.

    When I was in college, I had the luck to work summers in a plumbing shop. In the beginning this amounted to carrying around tools and helping on jobs, but later I gained more and more responsibility. When I started, though, some of the old timers in the shop would block my view of their work with their bodies, to hide what they do. When I asked them if I could watch they’d say: “What are you after my job??!” Their actions represented a mindset deeply concerned about “job security”. And while I found it a little pathetic at the time, I also saw the hopelessness for the maintenance shop with a culture like this. How will they move forward and learn from each other? “Them’s” ideas parallel the old plumbers’ ways of thinking.

    It’s a culture of scarcity — or what Laurel Schmidt calls a “culture of famine” in public education. I never really understand folks who think this way, and I run into plenty of them in Erie County in curricular circles. I try to share everything I do… I’m proud of the leadership work — and public education reform is difficult enough without the turfiness.

    But as I think about “Them’s” comments… it strikes me like this: in a way, Them could be right, depending on your goals. What are you after with this blog? If you’re trying to capitalize on your ideas here for the sake of career gain, this might not be the best medium. You’d be better off writing a book, perhaps.

    BUT… if you’re in this for the leadership… to use this as a therapeutic medium or bully pulpit for your building, then it offers some interesting new tools. And if you’re getting decent replies, then there’s value added there as well. Have you learned anything from your readers?

    As for my own reading here… a few times a month, I’m here for the authenticity of your voice as you struggle to help a district very much like my own SCCS. I’m not here for the concrete practical “job tips” that might be gained to advance my own career. I don’t think this blog has that kind of purpose. And I suppose, at some point, I’ll be writing in my own blog, but I’m finding the day job and family life demanding enough at this point. [Not sure how you’re mustering the time. If you’ve got a job tip there I can steal, lemme know. ;-)]

    Right now, though, it’s time to put my three little girls to bed. Cheers.

  5. “I’ve good ideas. But not enough people know about them.”

    How’s that?

    “Other people look through the net for good ideas, and when they find them, they link to them”

    “We are creating places where people with good ideas and people looking for good ideas get together.”

    “If I can get smart people, both looking for good ideas and willing to share good ideas, if I can get them to visit my site, then more people will come here.”

    “I win when someone reads my ideas. I win even more when my ideas get put to good use. And to get that to happen, I need lots of people to come hear and read what I have to say”

    “I could try to stand in the parking lot at the mall and talk to people, tell them what we should do to deal with problems in schools, but that wouldn’t be so effective.”

    I don’t know, maybe I am way off base, but did I begin to touch an answer?

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