The Honeymoon’s over

I’ve noticed lately that it seems the edublogosphere is beginning to show more signs of maturing and is looking less like an echo chamber. While I have no clear data I can point to several discussions of late that engage both sides of an issue in some fairly poignant debate.

At times, the debate gets a little personal and less professional than it ought to be but sometimes when passionate people get going, it can get a little uncomfortable but I’m hoping most of these disputes get sorted out or at least come to some understanding about agreeing to disagree. Some might not really be considered battles as much as asking bloggers to clarify their position. This is also another cry for readers to be sure to read the comments as much as the posting itself.

Here are some battles of the past few months that I’ve either commented on or observed:

These are some samplings of good debate and I’m sure there are much better ones or ones I’ve forgotten. If you have some examples of good debate, please leave me a comment.

The thing for me is that is shows that as bloggers become more comfortable with their own writing and beliefs, they can expect to be  challenged more. I think David Warlick is at times a bit of a punching bag for some and yet David is willing to continue to throw out ideas and isn’t afraid of the challenge. I’m assuming he relishes the fact that others continue to read him. Tom Hoffman and Gary Stager continue to be naysayers for many ideas and I think this is a good thing. We all need to be better at challenging each other and for many of us this is difficult because of our tendency to want to be nice all the time.

This is a good thing but at the same time the niceties of educators when they are inviting others to engage in conversations will not always be there as we develop ideas and beliefs that have depth. This really isn’t unlike our relationships offline as those who are our true friends will challenge our thinking at times and even strongly disagree. The litmus test for these relationships come with being able to maintain a respect for each other despite our disagreements. As educators I think we have a greater obligation to blog in a more professional manner than the average citizen; just as we need to live more exemplary lives in the community.

Image: The Honeymooners


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  • Dean,
    One of my earliest frustrations with the edublogosphere was not the dirth of material to read and or bloggers with whom to engage, but of material and bloggers with which I disagree. Part of the beauty of the online world is its inherent variety and the ability of a person to find other like-minded individuals.
    Unfortunately this has also meant a challenge or avoidance of seeking out contrarian opinions.
    One piece of this developing community that worries me is the extent to which blogging is frequently about finding and building upon the ideas of others that are similar to our own. While I am all for the free exchange of ideas, for what does all of this agreement prepare us?
    At some point the established powers in education will be willing to engage in a serious conversation/debate about the place, purpose, shape and extent of connectivity in education.
    Without good (and you’re correct, they must be respectful) debates in this sphere, how strong can we expect our points to be?
    When discussing persuasive writing, one of the first things I encourage my students to do is argue the side that is contradictory to what they believe – find the holes first. We must dig deeply to push one another’s thinking on whatever the topic being discussed. We would offer and expect no less from our students.
    Thank you for beginning what I hope will be a detailed discussion, if not debate, about the need to offer and accept criticism of ideas within this domain.
    Thank you for making me think.

  • You’ve touched on a very timely and important subject. For many of us, the topics that are being circulated are ones that, for the most part, many of us agree about given the stage of technology use we are at right now. I agree we need to be civil and demonstrate a level of professionalism and we need to be certain that we read through the comments on a subject and not just the original post. As more and more people begin to leave comments, we will see more and more people disagreeing or questioning what is being said – I did the same thing with what Will was saying when I first began and, as you’ve shown, I still will disagree on specific topics (still sorry for the rant I left:( ) We need to question one another and be ready to accept that not everyone will agree with what we are saying – that is what everyday life is really like for many of us – people not necessarily seeing things as we do. The more we are challenged and need to clarify our thoughts and ideas here, the better we will be at doing the same in our own small circles of influence. Great idea – now we need to figure out something to debate…… Pepsi – Coke anyone? 😉

  • Kelly,

    I doubt if we’ll run out of things to debate. I do think there are 2 types of debates.

    1. Big issues….things like cellphones, content filtering, privacy, and the like
    2. Clarification of ideas…tv thing, definitions, learning theories and more. At times this may seem trivial but it’s important to have others challenge our language and intent in order that we better communicate with those less knowledgeable.

    Thanks for continuing the conversation.

  • Hi Dean, Thanks for the thought-provoking post, I’d missed a number of these debates. I’ve also written about a couple of other debates, in a post on the importance of dissenting voices

  • audrey

    Thank you so much for this post. I began to be involved in the edublogger community a few months back and I found that I disagreed with certain prevailing wisdoms, or at the least, I could see other sides to some dearly held beliefs. I even challenged some heavy hitters (although I had no idea that they were so prominent in their fields when I first opened my mouth). Of course, it’s always stupid to open your mouth early and often, but such is life. But, the sense I had that I was in some fundamental disagreement with “the others” (even as I am a strong proponent for using technology in education), led me to pull down my blog and stop commenting. Everyone else seemed so unabashedly enthusiastic and happyfaced that I often felt like I must be swimming in the wrong pool if I couldn’t agree more. This post, and a few others like it, encourage me because it reframes disagreement as maturity and plurality rather than as sour notes that should be silent.

  • Great post, Dean –

    It is nice to get a few dissenting voices out there. Not to be a stick in the mud, but I’ve always thought that critical thought was healthy.

    Keep up the good thought,


  • Effective teams (groups, networks, etc.) should always have members who are willing to debate — and even if everyone agrees on a topic, it always helps to have someone willing to play “Devil’s Advocate” in order to push the conversation and to test the strength of ideas. If this is done in a constructive and healthy way, it does result in a stronger group/team with stronger, highly effective ideas/messages/plans.


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