Thursday, May 08, 2008


Let's say I'm a mathematics professional developer in an urban school district. A new superintendent comes in with a new math program which goes against everything I believe to be true and good in mathematics education. Given that I've got seven years until I get my pension and this super will surely be gone in three or less, I'm hardly going to resign in righteous protest, I just have to ride it out.

I'm a professional, so while I'm on the clock, I do what I'm told, and train teachers to use the crappy new curriculum just like I did the last one. When I go home, I work on my new professional blog, Mathematical Malpractice, explaining in great precision why this curriculum does a disservice to our kids.

Whether or not I have any legal protection from reprimand at work for doing this (I suspect the answer is, "sort of, but not really"), I at least have moral justification for expressing my concerns as a citizen outside of work time. But if I put a link to my blog in the footer of every email I send out, including, for example, those setting up PD for the math curriculum in question, is this any different than starting my presentation by saying "Today I'm going to introduce you to the new math curriculum, which is inferior to our current curriculum, but the superitendent says you have to use it." Can I be justifiably reprimanded for that?

I would argue that the DOE should provide professionals with blogs, but it should be clear that they are just as accountable for its contents as they are for any other email, memo, lesson, lecture or test they create. But blurring the line between personal and work expression really helps nobody. It is just a disaster waiting to happen.


Stephen Downes said...

d this mindset - is the expectation that it is 'professional' not only to do what you are told but also to pretend, in a professional capacity, that what you are told is correct, even when it is not.

It's a definition of 'professional' based fundamentally on dishonesty, and if it's a disaster waiting to happen, it's because of this dishonesty, and not because professionals blog openly.

Tom Hoffman said...

Well, yes, "I'm an employee..." is probably more to the point than "I'm a professional..." in my post.