I generally find Gary Stager over-the-top and alarmist – just check out my parsing two weeks ago of his piece about how schools are like prisons. I still read him as often as he publishes, though; his articles are more provocative than most and I appreciate his point of view. Opinions by Stager and others with whom I disagree [to varying degrees] often help me flesh out and solidify my own stances.
Today Stager put out a piece called “Twittering While America Burns,” a brief, scathing indictment of education technophiles who spend their time fawning over social media innovations such as Twitter while significant, pressing issues muck up our schools:
The education blogosphere is in overdrive this summer with discussions of edugaming, all things Web 2.0, Flickrs of NECC photos and abstract ruminations on school reform. The virtual aspects of schooling are well represented in these discussions. Far less represented are the actual problems that require immediate attention.
For example, the United States Supreme court recently ruled that race may not be used as a variable in achieving racial diversity. Many Americans view this decision as a reversal of the landmark 1954 decision, Brown vs. Board of Education.
There’s a rumbling in the air – it might be my empty stomach, but it’s more likely the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse bearing news that Stager and I agree and the end is nigh.
For those who aren’t in the know [or don’t especially care], Twitter is a social networking service that combines features of text messaging and blogging; Flickr is for photo sharing. Countless blogs in my RSS reader gush over these fashionable darlings of “web 2.0” daily while:
- Less than 25% of Detroit students graduate.
- Chicago is a war zone that’s actually worse than a real war zone
- The British national curriculum evokes the words “Hell” and “handbasket”
- There are millions of kids who can’t read this post
And those are the examples I thought of in the last seven seconds.
I don’t expect all educators to lend their manpower to all causes, especially when some are better suited than others to tackle a particular problem. I do, however, expect educators to behave like professionals and put their respective issues into proper perspective. Mr. Stager was quite right to call you out and I support his point in full.
To those who have spent their day “Twittering,” I’ll issue to you a hearty, “Grow up.” If I’m wrong about the value of Twitter, Flickr and others, let me know – I’m interested in hearing your case.
And Gary, maybe in the afterlife we can re-enact the following scene. I’ll be Patton.
UPDATE at 7.23.07, 11.14pm:
The Cool Cat Teacher isn’t pleased. I just got back from Boston and have a few things to take care of over the next day – I’ll give a full response after that.
UPDATE #2 at 7.24.07, 6.10pm:
Alfred Thompson weighs in as well.