Blog rage

After reading this article in USA Today, I thought of road rage as reasonable analogy. The article talks about some teachers blogging anonymously and making personal attacks and criticisms about teachers and schools. In the same way that drivers can hide behind the windshield and metal of their vehicles and yell and shout at other drivers, so do these teachers. I don’t like it. I suppose there might be a place for anonymous blogging but it seems like many do so in order to go on the attack. I think it’s a bad practice and for the same reason, I don’t want anonymous commenters on my blog, I not much interested in reading theirs. If I can’t find the about page, I’m leaving.

It isnt’ like you can’t challenge others views or writings. That’s part of what makes blogging interesting. I don’t consider myself too controversial, although some may disagree with me. Tom Hoffman’s recent challenge to Wes Fryer, David Warlick, Will Richardson, and Vicki Davis, while not my style, does raise reasonable questions and offers good discussion. He’s not personal, he simply disagrees with what they say. Maybe one day he’ll tell me where I’ve strayed in my thinking.

Let’s encourage each other to be forthright in our comments and discussions and stop hiding behind pseudonyms for the soul purpose of unleashing personal attacks. You’re giving us a bad name!

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  • I can see your point; however, three of my four blogs are anonymous. One of them chronicles an illness, and I wouldn’t want anyone I know to know that is me; one of them is a private memoirs blog, open only to family members; and one is the WordPress blog I gave you as an address. I think it depends on why you’re blogging. I’m not a teacher, although I occasionally teach. Who I am is unimportant. I subscribe to this blog because of my interest in education. I have no credentials, so why should it matter?

  • I don’t like it when someone leaves anonymous comments on my blog because, normally, they are disagreeing in an impolite manner. It seems that *most* of the time anonymous bloggers are negative. In the example cited here, where teachers are disagreeing with the way things are done in their schools, they would be better to put forward an argument suggesting ways to improve and engage with school management. What they are doing is merely graffiti on the web.

    Maybe that’s the cut-off – is the comment or blog, anonymous or not, graffiti in our space?

  • Dean,

    Thanks for letting us know about this article. I have to confess that I did not come away from the article with the impression that the title seemed to be eliciting. I got the impression of many teachers out there blogging as a professional practice of reflection and communication.

    The exceptions, the blog rage (I like that), are an indication of an education system that is broken, where teachers really do find themselves in a fox hole, forgotten about by their commanders and even the country they are fighting for. Teachers should feel a part of a team that includes instructional support professionals, administrators, school boards and other elected officials, parents, and the students. If that is not how teachers see themselves, then there is something broken. It’s not an excuse for bridge-burning rants, but there are reasons.

    Blogging should be about bridge building, not bridge burning. Still, anonymous blogs don’t really bother me. Neither do anonymous comments. Tom Hoffman, doesn’t even bother me. It’s about conversation, he and others who criticize my writings make me think. They make me try to come at my positions from different directions, and sometimes I change my views. ..and even if I do not change my views, I usually understand them a little better.

    It’s what blogging is about.

  • Jude,
    You make a good point. I guess the anonymous blogs I’ve come across seem to have the intent on “stickin’ it” to someone. Your examples are valid.

    David,
    That’s why I direct folks your way…because you take a hit. You’re not afraid to throw things out there and perhaps be challenged. I know you play devil’s advocate a lot and that adds greatly to the conversation. It proves we’re not the echo chamber, some would suggest we’re in.

  • As someone who trains and works with school administrators, I unfortunately have to note that some teachers work in situations in which they would be extremely foolish to publicly criticize their supervisors. Too many so-called “leaders” quell opposing viewpoints and surround themselves with individuals who blindly support them rather than stretch their thinking in productive ways. I wish more administrators would see the value of tapping into different ideas and viewpoints.

    Truth is always a defense to defamation claims as long as the speech is not done out of malice. If the principal is indeed facilitating (or even fostering) illegal behavior such as teacher prayer meetings, that’s not a very good sign for less troublesome issues that also may warrant criticism. In short, it is possible that the environment at this school was so hostile that the teacher had no meaningful option available to her.

  • Scott,

    If it’s that bad, why blog about it? What purpose does it serve? These types of examples don’t seem very well suited for global conversations. If they are done to discuss a general trend or observation, I can see it but if a principal or administrator or anyone is facilitating illegal behaviour, I don’t think blogging about it is the answer. I think there are better ways to communicate this type of behaviour.

  • Dean, I was thinking the same thing, actually. The post isn’t going to change anything in the school. It sounds mostly like she just needed to vent. A very human reaction – do we think it’s okay for her to use the blog to do that?

    Who knows? Maybe she forwarded the post on to the administrator, other administrators in the district, other teaching staff, etc. If so, then the question of malice comes up – is she spreading the message in order to try and make change or simply to harm someone’s reputation?

    You say there are better ways for her to communicate her concerns. I wonder what you think those might be and if she already tried them. Maybe she didn’t because she felt powerless and threatened.

    All in all, it’s a sad and messy situation. Maybe one that’s better left out of the blogosphere, maybe not. That said, this is an interesting issue – thanks for sparking the conversation!

  • I figured I would join the conversation– especially since it is about me. While I understand your issue with anonymous blogs, I think that you are making a couple of assumptions. Just because I blog about something anonymously does not mean that I am not also engaging the people that I am blogging about personally. It also doesn’t mean that I am sitting around doing nothing to improve bad situations and just blogging about it. I went through proper channels as well as blogged anonymously about it.

    Why blog, then? Is that the question? While “venting” is certainly part of it, I have friends and family to do that with– I don’t need the blog for that. I was blogging about teaching issues because I felt very alone at first. You can’t talk to your coworkers about some issues because you don’t want to be seen as negative or bring others down. Also, because of the severity of some of the issues I could not legally talk to people I worked with about it. When I blog, everyone has the choice to read or not read. When I was teaching, I got at least ten emails a day from readers thanking me for reminding them that they were not the only ones dealing with these very disturbing issues. The people I blogged about were not harmed, due to my being anonymous, and my people were helped.

    Some call it gossip; I call it reaching out.

  • Thanks for chiming in. You make some great points. I also think you should blog about those challenging and difficult issues.

    However, because you’re reaching out and finding an audience, I wonder if you could have phrased your postings in a less specific way? The issues of illegal activity and incompetence could discussed in a less characterizing way. These things do have the interest of those of us involved in education. It just seems too personal and thus somewhat vendictive. That may have not been your intent but being both anonymous and yet fairly specific seems a bit contradictory to me.

    These type of rants, while possibly being therapeutic, is what gives bloggers and bloggin a bad name. Let’s take the technology out of it and think about a parallel example. If  someone were to anonymous post flyers all over town attacking someone’s character would that be acceptable? Again, the anonymity combined with the specific attack just doesn’t sit well with me. The specificity (if that’s even a word) gives it a degree of voyeurism that feels wrong to me.
    Not sure how clear that is but felt the need to respond. Perhaps others may have a different view.

  • That’s very much my view. I always ask myself before I blog if this is going to be of use to others. If not, I don’t blog. If it’s just a link, I delicious it. I don’t want to fill up others’ aggregators just because I’ve had a bad day.

  • I live in a fairly small town with a local newspaper which is probably taken by every household in town. Every now and again someone will write anonymously in the so-called “Safety Valve” section. Often it is obvious why they have done this – you don’t want to sound off about people vandalising property and leave your address in case you’re next. Other times you can’t help feeling there is no reason other than the unwillingness to identify the writer with a point of view. With the latter I have less sympathy. Maybe we should apply the same standards?

  • I have written some pretty frank posts on my own blog (as a principal). Originally, I had the blog linked to my school web site; however, when I criticized a special education policy within the district that I felt was not in the best interests of the students… I felt a little heat. I was directed to take the link to my blog off the school web site; and then my supervisor, who (to my knowledge) had never read my blog before, began critiquing my school web site negatively (which is kind of funny since my school is one of the only one that even bothers having an up to date web site).

    I think if you are going to write/post about real life situations about your school and/or district… then they should be positive; or it could pose a professional liability for you.

    And, that’s why an anonymous blog might be warranted. Everything we have to say isn’t always positive; and we should have the right to tell the truth… don’t you think? (As if…)

  • Darix

    interesting

    ——————
    http://privacy.emigrantas.com – all about privacy in the Internet

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