Does edu-Twitter need a bit more intersubjectivity? Do I?
This blog is about why I am so interested in edu-Twitter and also about how it might work better (for me, and perhaps for you).
Perhaps Twitter works best if the participants have a shared understanding of the reasons for their engagement.
Perhaps this means pausing the conversation occasionally, just for a moment, to ask how we want the conversation to be conducted.
Since Twitter works well with lists, here is a list of ways in which I want edu-Twitter to work, and ways in which -sometimes- it doesn’t work for me.
- I want to follow teachers who teach everyday, because I want to know what you are doing, what bothers you, what excites you. I follow new teachers and very experienced teachers, primary and secondary teachers, teachers of my subject (History) and others, from my country (England) and from around the world. I want Twitter to keep open windows into other worlds.
- I want to hear about things happening in the real world, like research events, teachmeets, museum exhibitions, government announcements, conferences, many other things, and to share these so that if I can’t attend, a contact on Twitter might.
- I want people I follow to suggest things I should read too, especially research about teaching and learning, articles about the the past, about history and historical thinking, about the politics of education and much more besides.
- Twitter can connect me to other people when there is a burning issue, for example in teacher education, the study of the past, or the educational system here and internationally. I often hear important news on Twitter before I hear about from any other source. Cool. Edu-Twitter: you are an inspiration!
- I want to use Twitter to explore ideas and issues. Here I am in intersubjective mode. Notice the use of ‘perhaps’ above. I am trying to share the ‘rules of play’ I am looking for on Twitter. Play here means playing with different ideas and bodies of knowledge, trying to open up debate and not close it down. Using the word play doesn’t mean I am not serious about professional and other issues. Play for me doesn’t mean messing around. When musicians play music it isn’t a game. It might even be art. When children play it might enable learning (#controversy) .
- I don’t want to use Twitter to win-or lose- arguments. Debate yes, point scoring no. I am trying to move away from this. Thank you for those tweeters who model this for me every day. You know who you are. (Is this direct instruction or constructivist? #controversy)
- I don’t want to be told by other tweeters what I DO think, on the basis of one thing I say or do.
- I don’t want to be told what I SHOULD think. (I might still follow you if you do this, though it is hard work for me. Trying to keep an open mind is very difficult if the debate seems threatening, but it is vital).
- I don’t want to attack anyone personally or be attacked. (This post is not about being attacked, as my experiences on Twitter have been very positive overall). Simple right? Well this is another place where intersubjectivity comes in. We all have areas where -suddenly- we are deadly serious. Our professional identity is at stake. We need to look out for these reactions in our fellow users of Twitter and have the self-awareness to realise that we might close down debate, when -in my view- it needs to stay open. This means taking time to jump out of the debate and, perhaps, think aloud about how we want the debate to be conducted.
So thank you edu-Twitter, but please take play seriously.We will all learn more from each other if we play nice.