Category Archives: Dilemma

A Continuing Dilemma

Where I’ve been – and a possible shift in where I’m going is a post that really resonates with me. Sara shares her feelings here:

What that means is that I often feel split right down the middle when it comes to the writing I want to do vs. the writing that “counts.” And, my absence from my blog writing has much to do with this – as time spent blogging is time apart from data sets and writing publications that stand a chance of getting cited in other spaces, etc.

Sara pointed to danah boyd’s post where she reflected on what it means for research to have “impact.” Sara continued:

Yes, I work in a system that values a certain kind of publishing- and I knew that going into this job. And, yes, I expected “push-back” when it came to the degree to which I write for teachers. but, the reality is that my audience doesn’t turn to a journal on research in teacher education to learn. so, to use danah’s frame, the impact of my work is measured less by citation count than by shifts in teachers’ pedagogy and, perhaps more importantly, the engagment, motivation, and learning of each student in their classrooms.

The question that emerged for Sara was “Could a blog be useful in disseminating research findings?” Then her bigger question, “Can a blog that is mostly public be a space for the meaning making that happens prior to drafting a manuscript?”

I say yes and we would be the better for it. I have blogged very little since working on published research for the past two years. I can’t help but think all the published results would have been improved with input from the larger audience that would lead to better meaning making. I don’t have answers to this dilemma but this is something I keep struggling with a lot.

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The dilemmas we face

I have had Clarence Fisher’s post on Censorship, Audience, and International Collaboration on my mind ever since he posted it last Thursday. He had some tough decisions to make in his classroom. The dilemma was about a video his kids had created that Clarence said was “Powerful, overtly critical, and possibly in poor taste.” You need to read his post to get the full story and see the video but  Clarence had to make a decision that he still questions as to whether he  did the correct thing in requiring them to make changes……
He phrased it that he “pulled rank on them and told them that they had to edit the piece with the picture out.” He explained that it was being too critical and possibly insensitive or inflammatory towards their audience. In the end, the students decided to edit the video and revise it in ways they felt were more effective.

I think Clarence made the right call. I do know I would have made the same call. But I don’t view Clarence as pulling rank in this situation. I see it as a responsible call made by a caring and responsible teacher. In his post this sentence grabbed my attention:

“The kids producing the piece were never sure, leaning one way and then the other, they could not decide what to do.”

This shows the power of classroom discourse. It is clear that there was much classroom discussion and I have found time and again that this is what blogging and these type of local and global collaborations foster. This is where we have opportunities  to get kids engaged in critical thinking and participating in difficult discussions that really make them think because they are front and center in the involvement. This really wasn’t pulling rank because these kids had ownership of the dilemma. The teacher is the one to make the final call on such dilemmas but I am sure the kids understood his call. Plus the fact that he blogged about it and they can read his thoughts there shows the transparency of the learning with students and teacher. That’s powerful stuff. Just think about what he is teaching and modeling. Yes indeed, powerful stuff.
I find myself facing dilemmas constantly at the elementary level. There is much to think about and consider. I also find that the classroom discourses are of paramount importance. Blogging and videos afford us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing and media production. Students and teachers can have meaningful and powerful discussions and learnings about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with its public nature. That I would submit is good teaching and transforming teaching and learning, all of which Clarence exemplifies so very well.

Sometimes blogging is difficult

Can’t think,
Too dumb.
Inspiration won’t come,
Bad ink, blunt pen,
Best wishes. Amen

That is a poem that I read years ago that for some reason has stuck in my mind. I have no idea who wrote it or where it came from but it is one of those things that pops through my head from time to time. I’m changing it to:

Can’t blog,
Too difficult,
“Nondiscussables” abound,
A few dilemmas,
What to do?
Best wishes, Amen.

Sometimes blogging is difficult, at least for me. I haven’t been able to blog lately because I’ve been thinking a great deal about issues that can’t be discussed “easily” on a blog. Factors such as the people involved or the sensitivity of the topic prevent total disclosure. That’s a good thing but I think the topics are worthy of discussion and I could gain from the insights of my “edublogging” family.

This year I have run into a few dilemmas that I still struggle with. Some have been with my blogging at the high school, some with commenters who cause concern in ways that have not come up before, and some just fall in the realm of those “nondiscussables” that exist in every educator’s world. Roland Barth describes these so well in Improving Relationships Within the Schoolhouse.

Roland Barth says adult relationships in the school will remain unchanged. School improvement is impossible when we give nondiscussables such extraordinary power over us. “These “nondiscussables” are held frequently in the halls, parking lots and elsewhere, but seldom in the polite society—at a faculty or PTA meeting, for example.

His statement has been been on my mind for some time. It has applications for those of us who are blogging, especially those with students.

So I thought I’d tackle one of my dilemmas today. This dilemma centers around an individual who comments frequently. This dilemma has to do with the appropriateness of comments. From time to time we may run across comments that we feel are not appropriate. These have to be judgement calls on our part. Now some are clear cut as in the case of offensive language, extreme rudeness, etc. but others are not so clear cut. A commenter may tread on areas that we educators generally respect and the commenter may not even be aware of the inappropriateness of their comment. I have had something like that happen recently. It was on my blog. I was discussing a situation, yet using no names. I intentionally did not use the students’ name so as not to embarrass him/her in any way. This commenter used the child’s name in a comment reply to my post. I took the liberty of removing the student name. I handled the issue by emailing the commenter. In this particular case I sent a strong email asking the commenter to please “think before they comment”. I took this action because this particular commenter had had a few occasions with other edubloggers over various unacceptable situations. Now I don’t know but I sense that the commenter lacks the skills to realize inappropriateness. I have no idea if it is the lack of experience or what and for the most part this commenter has provided excellent comments. The continued occurrences here and there cause concern. Now how do you weigh this? Great good has been accomplished with comments but there is an uneasiness that exists as you are never sure just when the next bombshell might drop. Now we educators can handle that, we already are doing that and in many cases we learn from these experiences but I am a firm believer in letting students learn from comments but therein lies my dilemma. I feel the commenter can be guided and learn from the experiences but my first responsibility is to the students. It’s also the type of thing that could shut us down. I’ve also noticed that the issue has not been blogged by other educators who have had this commenter frequent their sites.

This has led me to consider the merits of having a comment policy of some type that could be used with those who comment to our students or to us about our students. In situations like this I believe a comment policy would be helpful to use with those commenters like the one I am talking about. This post has lots of food for thought on this concern. I especially like the questions asked under ‘The Debate Over Deleting a Comment’. Those could be adapted nicely to fit in with a comment policy.

So, what’s your take? Do you think such issues are better discussed privately? And what’s your take on a comment policy?

Dilemma 1

Here’s a dilemma I can write about and would love to get some feedback.

A high school student in my blogging group found a thought-provoking article entitled “Cheating Gets You Nowhere”.

Click on student papers.The article was written by a college student (T. J. Dougherty) and it

is listed on a page with numerous other articles. Some of the titles

may be inappropriate for students to read. I haven’t read all the other

articles but just the titles will be enough to cause concern.  I

can’t get the link to go directly to the one article. If someone knows

the answer to that, that could solve the problem. I guess I could make

the paper into a pdf but then there are copyright issues, etc. A lot of

these articles would be of high interest to the students in the

blogging class. Some great discussions and blogging could result. And we are going to constantly come up to the problem

of periphereal inappropriate items (does that make sense?).  How do we

pull some out and still not be right in the midst of other links that could cause uproars?

And we have to think about younger students who will be reading the high school student posts. What to do?

I’ve tossed the problem back to the school to see what they think. Just thought I’d toss the issue out for comment and ideas.

As I continue this blogging process, I’ve decided to make a dilemma

category. Wonder how many I will have by the end of the year?