Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Touching on the Politics of the US K-12 Blogosphere Again

Wes's crappy post on equitable funding for schools (he's against it, unless it is provided with or by a pony), reminds me that these points from Gary's rant are worth reiterating:

  • Times have changed. Few Americans protest anything, not the war in Iraq, not the erosion of civil liberties. Educators don't even fight overly restrictive and counter-productive network policies that castrate the Internet. Has ISTE raised the issue before Congress? Has the NEA made this an issue of working conditions? No, there is little appetite for rocking the boat. We have become passive and compliant just like our schools wish for our students.
  • I know I'll get flamed for this, but the educational Web 2.0 community has little first-hand experience in social activism and scant knowledge of existing school reform literature. Like the discovery of new tools, one gets the sense that proponents of Web 2.0 in education are discovering educational theories here and there and then applying these ideas to the new tools.

To the extent this has provoked a response, that response has been from outside the US, and it seems is much more likely that a non-US ed-tech blogger is a liberal, so this isn't too surprising. But Gary and I are Americans, so let's focus on the situation at home.

How many assertively progressive US-based K-12 ed-tech bloggers can you think of? Chris Lehmann. Doug Noon. Gary. David Thornburg. Hm... Past that it's a bunch of Babbitts and presumably some quiet liberals, although the point here is that there are more of the former than the latter. I'm sure I'm forgetting some folks. If you feel slighted, feel free to proudly proclaim your US-based liberalism in comments.

This scene is just not the one I grew up in and joined as a teacher, and it actually takes a long time to realize, "Hey, these people are all squares." Having come into the full realization of this, there's nothing to be done about it, but it does provide some sort of resolution.


Bill Kerr said...

hi tom,

I'm not sure what you mean by "assertively progressive" and "liberal"

eg. if I support free software, the OLPC, constructionism, the iraq war, don't believe we are headed for an environmental catastrophe and read Marx then what does that make me?

Tom Hoffman said...

Hi Bill,

Yes, trying to definitively pin these down is pretty hopeless, particularly on an international scale, particularly since education is an issue everyone has to say nice things about. I think self-identification and self-expression via what one chooses to write about will do.

Bill Fitzgerald said...

@ Bill -- RE: "if I support free software, the OLPC, constructionism, the iraq war, don't believe we are headed for an environmental catastrophe and read Marx then what does that make me?"

I'd say an individual in that intellectual place would be on the verge of a realization that they overlooked something in formulating their current worldview. It's an unlikely combination.

As Tom points out, many people here in the States (both inside and outside education) are jaded to the point of inaction, or are simply inactive. Over the last six years, we have seen the erosion of basic civil liberties, greater disparities in income between the richest and poorest citizens, increased xenophobia, "reforms" in the guise of NCLB -- the list goes on.

And the majority of us (US Citizens) have accepted this with little noise or active dissent. This isn't limited to the educational community, but it is certainly present within the educational community.