Nelson G. writes the following in response to my "leading vs. listening" entry of two days ago:
"It strikes me that this was, in some ways, an especially apppropriate blog posting for invited responses. In a way, it's all about listening. I'll admit that when I received an email telling me that you had started a blog, I thought, 'Cool. I'll peek in at it some day,' and promptly put it out of my mind. The email was there in my inbox, but I had little inclination to follow the link because there are so many sources of news and reflection on the Web, I find it all a bit overwhelming."
Who hasn't experienced Nelson's feeling of being annoyingly over-supplied with an excess of 'wired' information? What's so oppressive is not simply the easy and abundant availability of electronic information, it's how tenaciously and maddeningly we are sucked into its electronic maw. When the Provost of our university came today to present completion of program certificates to our summer institute participants, she and I performed what must now be considered the academic ritual of bemoaning our email dominated world. "The trouble is the cc function," she complained. "Anyone can cc you on anything, and include attachments. Attachments they expect you to read. It's simply overwhelming."
The "o" word again. Overwhelming. Teachers in general and academics in particular feel they are drowning in electronic connectivity, and most are mad as hell about it.
So what does that mean for the use of electronic communication in the building of a stronger and more supportive sense of school community that I suggested at the conclusion of my entry of two day ago? I think it means that we have to be pretty patient at first, and pretty understanding of the many claims that are made on the time and attention of any reasonably conscientious public school teacher. We can no more expect electronic connectivity to 'transform' a school culture than we could have expected Margot's classmates in "All Summer in a Day" to believe her accounts of seeing and feeling the sun (see my earlier blog entry). What we can expect, however, is that thoughtful and attentive 'electronic' observations on the contributions our fellow teachers are making to enriching the life of the students they teach and the schools in which they work will gradually build an ever-enlarging audience of both 'authors' and 'readers.'
And is that really all that much to ask: one postive comment per day, posted electronically on blogsite 'hosted' by the whole school faculty, available to all teachers to both post 'electronic appreciations' of one another and to respond to or comment on those that have been posted? Might be worth a try, might it not? And who is going to try, if not you?