Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Convoluted Job? (This title means it's about something that missed the mark.)

A classroom pushes upon a teacher a daily, sometimes hourly, choice - say what my big boy brain knows is right or hand control over to 5-year-old me.
One of what I hope are a multitude of reasons I am entrusted with the growth and development of young minds is my proclivity to listening to my big boy brain. Mocking a student's ideas would undermine what we're (teachers and students) all in the classroom to do - build, challenge and support. It would also invalidate whatever community or trust has been created in the classroom.
The same is to be said of a faculty meeting. We're in the room to improve how we put our axioms into practice. Again, the big boy brain is the tool of choice. Tearing down a colleague's idea in a way that also calls into question the integrity or ability of that colleague would open the door to me teaching in isolation - and not by choice.
I preface with these statements because it gets to the meat of what's been troubling me about James Farmer's post "A Con-Job?" Farmer takes issue with the axioms on which EduCon 2.0 is built. More specifically, he seems to take issue with the semantics of those axioms.
Though EduCon is to take place at my school, I've little interest in arguing for or against Farmer's thinking (others are involved in that discussion). My interest is really in the tone of the post.
It's a cat post. It's talking about someone and then pretending you weren't when they walk up. Most importantly, it's not helpful. That's what gets stuck in my craw. Farmer's tone is one of degradation. It does not strike the reader as a post interested in discourse, but of one interested in disarming. Were a colleague to "poke holes" in an argument of mine or of a peer using words and phrases like "codswaddle" and "No shit, Sherlock" the conversation would be over. Though it could be argued an axiom should make one respond with such an Arthur Conan Doylian invocation of the vernacular.
It could be argued the post was not meant for discussion, but then why choose a global forum?
It could be argued that Farmer was unaware of the tone of the post. This is unlikely from someone whose own axiom states:
"Too often we hold back users through unnecessary constraints when we could be encouraging expression, exploration and achieving far greater success through incorporating subversion."
An "unnecessary constraint" exists in Farmer's tone. Rather than welcoming forthright debate, he chooses language that operates more on a level of mockery. Any hopes of an elevated argument are lost in his eliciting of ire and emotion. This is bad design. To be sure, Farmer has incorporated subversion, so long as there's such a thing as self-subversion.