Friday, 28 March 2008

What to write?

It has been a sad few weeks since my last post. The situation with Al Upton and his mini-legends drags on and because we are in holidays, little has been resolved. In a skype conversation with Al and Sue Waters and Anne Murchison, he was understandably dispirited. It is such a blow to someone who is a devoted professional, such a slight to his good judgement of what is safe and appropriate for his students- in consultation with parents that it is.What concerns me greatly is that Al should not be the pinup boy for this cause. There are so many of us attempting to wrestle with the new technology, with a new way of seeing ourselves as educators that Al should not be bearing the brunt of all this considerable backlash in the light of the hysteria generated by the media about fears of 'The Internet'.I know if it were me facing such a questioning of my judgement, I would have given up and run-I am not of the same strong stuff as Al, but it is an issue that has to be dealt with and government departments and schools and parents cannot hide their heads in the sand and hope it will go away. It won't.
The picture I have added to this post is my attempt to finally respond to the Passion Quilt meme started by Miguel Guhlin.
What is my passion in teaching? To help students to find their own voice in writing and to glow with pride and happiness when they write.The lights are on in so many classes, students are starting to be heard, but it is decisions like that of the Sth Australian dept of Education that make it seem a very distant possibility to have classes where students can raise their voices beyond the small pond of the class and doing busy work for the teacher, to actually engage in writing for real authentic tasks to a wide audience.
It is interesting that when I started to write this post, I felt I had little of value to say. I have been reading some of the blogs mentioned in Clay Burell's post about favorite blogs and felt I had so much to learn and nothing to add to the discussions which are flowing past me on twitter all the time. Maybe I have little of great academic worth to contribute, but I feel better for exploring what has made me feel so down all week.


diane said...


That was a true and honest reflection on a state of affairs (in most countries) that should be troubling all of us.

Thank you.


Sue Waters said...

To me, Al is one is a million. I don't believe that I either would have had the strength and courage that Al's shown. Full credit to Al because they are issues that we should be discussing.

I feel said that you've been feeling a bit sad this week :(. Regarding Clay's post, sure I understand why people try to get others to suggest their favourite blog however there are so many reasons why I disagree. Everyone is an individual, we each have personal preferences of what we like and don't like. The blogs we like may be blogs others hate. Think of it in terms of books or movies. I would never recommend a book without first finding out what style and type of book people like to read. Imagine a new person starting out reading blogs -- you give a really limited selection -- that you like but they really hate. Worst case scenerio they might judge all blogs as a waste of time -- not because they are but because the selection didn't suit their style.

Even worse I hate to think that "reading some of the blogs mentioned in Clay Burell's post about favorite blogs and felt I had so much to learn and nothing to add to the discussions which are flowing past me on twitter all the time". You have so much to offer Sue. And if it helps, we all go through this phase. There will always be someone that know more than us but it doesn't matter. Taking the time to blog, wiki, twitter etc is all part of my learning which helps me gain the knowledge and meet lots of lovely people. Much of the best stuff I've learnt has been when I've gotten some of the information wrong :)

And my favourite blog post aren't always the ones that have the more knowledge but those that provoke an emotion.

Sue Waters
Mobile Technology in TAFE

Anonymous said...

I saw you mentioned on Twitter as somebody to stop by and say hello to. From what I gather from this post, somebody had the high jump due to the exercise of expressive ability. As an information professional, something like this concerns me.

I want to learn more about this case. You can find my contact details at this spot. You can also hear the most recent episode of the podcast I present at LISNews.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

Sue,I have been wrestling with these matters of vulnerability, cybersafety, yet need to fully educate and prepare my students for their current and future worlds. It is a pity that complete closure comes rather than evaluation of areas of concern and a chance to fix them with all parties concerned. This problem wont go away, it may even escalate but we can prepare our staff, parents and students with knowledge on how to handle them.

Britt Watwood said...

Your strength shows just in posting about this...and there are educators worldwide who believe in your cause.

sujokat said...

Thanks for the kind comments folks. I was feeling down and a bit overwhelmed by the amount of content out there that I have yet to wrestle with. Thanks for the support!

Dave Truss said...

I have had waves, of both joy and disappointment, come over me as I've seen and heard different stories in the edublogosphere. The hardest thing to deal with is ignorance!
If we aren't 'present' with our students online, then we will have no choice but to be REACTIVE rather than PROACTIVE with issues that will come up!
Facebook is a perfect example... playground rules- bullies have their way... when there is no adult presence. But all you hear about is, "Teachers should not have students on their Facebook." I say hogwash to that!
We NEED to be online with our students. We need to interact and engage with them in appropriate ways. We need to be ROLE MODELS that show them what appropriate behaviour is on the digital frontier.
Do we want this frontier to be a ‘Wild West’ or a pursuit of knowledge, like ‘Deep Space’? We won’t get the latter by sitting back and letting our students explore the void on their own.
An interesting aside: While writing this I got a Facebook e-mail alert. A former student, still in Grade 9, sent me an alcoholic drink. So, this weekend I will be sending him a private message asking him if he thinks this is appropriate? A message I will permanently keep in my inbox, along with any response I may get. School is open and the learning continues…

jenny said...

Well said Sue. Als stiuation has troubled me too. I'm trying to move our school into the idea of hosting public blogs and I do so with trepidation, worrying about what might happen. I'm reminded of my grandmother's words 'You're worrying about something that may never happen'. I believe this is the way to go and I have to move forward with confidence and work hard to convince my school community. Your post reminds me that there are many of us with a common reaction to this news and a strong belief that what we are doing is right. We need to take strength from one another and forge forward.

Kate Foy said...

Your voice is unique. Never be afraid to use it or think it's not worthy of being heard.

I think many of us are dispirited by the fear-filled bureaucratic handling of Al and the Minis' case recently. It's the fear behind the decision that saddens me. I hope it isn't the desire for governmental control that's the impetus.

Know we're a long tail out here and that our collective voices will matter in the long run.


Gabriela Sellart said...

Sue, I'd like to be able to say something to cheer you up.
When I discovered this wide world it was not the experts that seduced me, I've read experts all my live. I was hooked by the voices of teachers, like you, who share their ideas and their disappointments and their fears and their achievements.
You say your passion is "to help students to find their own voice in writing and to glow with pride and happiness when they write." I share that passion with you and many others too. We haven't chosen the easy way. It's hard to do something new. But we know, because we've caught glimpses of that, how students feel when they find their own voices. So, there's no way back.
And I cannot possibly imagine a world without me being able to post a comment here, to someone who is so far away and still so close.