(Trigger Warning: This gets a bit Jerry Maguire towards the end)
Twitter is, in the words of the Apostle of the apocalypse, 'the cage of every unclean and hateful bird'. It's a pitiful wasteland strewn with the desolation of a debauched culture. It's a cesspool festering with the putrid stench of the worst that humanity can secrete. It's full of bilge-water polluted with the mind-dregs of braggarts and bottom-feeders.
But I like it. And you knew all that already. And you're probably, like me, sticking it out for now in hope that its promise might be fulfilled.
One of the primary reasons I'm still mutilating my opinions and ideas into 140-character pith is in the hope of engaging with the myriad edu-tweeters who bring so much insight and wisdom to the (bird)table. When it's good, it's fabulous. Don't you think?
I've been challenged again and again to consider why I do what I do, to think about what's truly best for my students and to check my biases. (I've checked them: they all seem fine). I've reconsidered my use of textbooks and card sorts, I've mused on the claims of Ed-tech evangelists, and I've begun - tentatively - to reengage with academic work in the field. All this thanks not to Twitter itself, but to each of the genuine folks whose twopenneth has, in the aggregate, enabled me to repurchase some of the early joys of believing what I'm doing actually makes a difference.
There is a remarkable range of professional voices on Twitter. There are teachers of every type of student; every age, every culture, every personality. The dialectic produced by these voices (especially in disagreement) is thus of substantial value to us all. Iron sharpeneth iron, you know. We get to question and probe, cajole and conclude. This is the edu-Twitter I'd like to encourage. This is the edu-Twitter I'd like to be part of. You?
But, all of this is preamble. What I really want to do is proffer a simple word of personal concern.
My concern is that there seems to be a growing incidence of teachers and educationalists on the platform trying to push one another off. Given the trains presently hurtling down the track at us all (Govian goalpost relocation, KS2 literacy targets, FE funding cuts, the Prevent duty, Ofsted, etc.) this is unwarranted collateral damage, in my view. You can help yourself of course; we're all grown ups here. But let's not forget that the profession has its back to the wall and for the most part its not the fault of the teachers themselves.
Now, I'm in favour of the public sphere being intellectually unsafe. Safe spaces include my house, and my car and that's about it. I expect - no, I welcome - the challenges of thought that Twitter is so well placed to provoke. By thought we grow. This is what I try to inculcate into my students and it's what I hope to gain from being on Twitter. But – and this may strike you as being overly simplistic - you don’t have to be a doofus. It puts people off in a way that is ultimately self-defeating.
For example, the traditional / progressive debate is of fundamental importance to the future of education in this country and I adjure everyone to engage with it. No one should back down from their views and those with the most to say should speak with authority and clarity. But I’ll confess to you that there have been similar debates from which I've refrained because I don’t want to suffer the backlash of having an unpopular (or worse, incomplete) view. My own pusillanimity aside, I'm quite sure this feeling is not unique to me, and it behoves those who are established, capable and knowledgeable in a given field to create a Twitter environment fit for learning. You know, like a teacher would.
And so to the peroration, with which you’re welcome to disagree.
If your goal is to become ‘Twitter-famous’ (which of course means ‘not-famous-at-all’), then there are ways and means. It’s not that difficult, but it is kind of pointless. If you’re interested in being part of a twitter culture that values teacher development for the sake of our students and pupils, then I’m very simply and candidly asking you to consider how this is best achieved.
Perhaps, all that can ultimately be said is that if you want to engage in discussion with me under the wings of the blessed blue dove, then I’m happy do so in a spirit of critical collaboration rather than self-aggrandizement, petty mud-slinging and diatribe.
If you are into that sort of thing there's always Breitbart and Kanye.