Last year, I felt frustrated at what seemed to be an echo chamber in my Twitter feed. There were plenty of people agreeing with ideas, a lot of retweets, but very little disagreement.
I wrote a post titled, “Can We All Please Agree to Disagree” which seemed to resonate with many people as it was shared continuously for quite some time and became my most popular post of 2014.
That in itself was a little ironic, as I was asking for dissent but had generated more agreement, so it was refreshing to read George Couros’s reply to my post, offering a very different perspective on ‘Why We Need the Echo Chamber’.
But, you know how once you start thinking about something, or learn a new piece of information, you begin to notice it everywhere? (This is an interesting phenomenon known as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenom) Well, from the day I wrote that post, I started to notice disagreements whenever I jumped on Twitter. The echo chamber was no where in sight. They weren’t negative or hostile exchanges. For the most part they were genuine explorations , with people offering new perspectives, challenging and digging deeper into ideas to increase learning from each other and expanding their understanding.
As much as I’d love to flatter myself and suggest that this sort of dialogue happened as a direct result of people reading my post, the more likely scenario is that it had always been occurring, but for some reason, I hadn’t been paying attention.
I really liked what Edna Sackson had to say in this post about the types of tweets that don’t add value to Twitter discussions. I’m not sure I agree with her on every point. For example, I quite like the updates my Twitter colleagues provide about their meals, their holidays and other things that are going on in their lives. It fleshes them out for me and has resulted in us finding some common interests outside of education which has led to the formation of some great friendships.
But she makes a really good point about adding value, and I find the tweets and blog comments that build on what others are saying, sometimes through challenge and disagreement definitely add value to the conversation.
The other day I posted some thoughts on awards for teachers, in which I expressed concerns about how they encourage a view of teaching as an individual endeavour, rather than recognising the collaborative effort that goes into educating children. I received several comments both on Twitter and on this website in response to that post, all of which added value. And I was particularly pleased to see that it had inspired Eddie Woo to write his own post in reply. Eddie offers another perspective, which I don’t disagree with, yet I still stand by the opinions I offered in the original post.
This cognitive dissonance that I’m now experiencing over the issue is spurring me on to deeper thinking and learning, just as it does in students. And that’s the great thing participating in the dialogue around education. We learn, we grow.