Into the Twitterstrōm: Tweeting Pedagogue, Know Thyself

Previously I had been using Twitter as a way to share my blog posts and make the odd comment (usually an attention-seeking conversation stopper, sensibly sidestepped by my fellow Twitterers). But today, I made a couple of less silly remarks and found myself swept into the Twitterstrōm!

Twitter didn’t make much sense to me until today, when it both exhilarated and terrified me. Exhilarated I say because I felt for the first time that rush of thoughts diverging and entwining as two conversations became four, splitting off again and again. Terrified, because I realised that once one engages in debate on Twitter, one needs to tidy half-formed theories into the broom cupboard.

I was involved in two conversations: one about The Quirky Teacher’s criticism of reward systems in UK primary schools; and another on whether there should be rules about swearing in the school staffroom. Rather inconsistently, I felt drawn to a “managed economy” approach to the former debate (that is I felt reward systems were necessary in an institution like a primary school in order to offer something to those without intrinsic motivation) and found myself striking a more libertarian pose in the latter. For the swearing debate I concluded my position saying that whilst I don’t condone swearing about children, I felt that a written rule against it would be patronising and abdicate shared responsibility to a policy document. Of course I didn’t have enough characters to say that, so what I actually said was “I don’t condone swearing about kids, but I wouldn’t have a rule against it.”

Having both these conversations at the same time whilst slowly grasping their ideological incompatibility was mindbending (both personally revealing and properly educational). I became concerned that fellow Twitterers would peer over into the other conversation or onto my blog and say “Hang on a minute, but in this post you say this and in that post…” and so on.

Essentially I would describe myself as a social democrat: I haven’t taken the time to study political philosophy but I believe that some (not all) aspects of our lives can usefully be managed together (in the same way that a group of families might car pool to get their kids to school).

But on Twitter today I may have inadvertently presented two faces, leaving two groups of people with potentially quite different views of Whatonomy.

Blogging aside, I am quite comfortable with such unexamined ambiguity; I suspect that my meandering opinions will shape into something rather more coherent over time; but whether that will continue to cut the mustard in the Twitterstrōm remains to be seen.


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