Ideas You Give Away

Earlier, I ran across this blog entry:
What if seeking to increase your ranking actually impairs your ability to communicate, because people become mistrustful of your intentions? There's two things. 'Being heard' is one of them. 'Dominating the conversation' is another. They're different.
As I read this, I find myself agreeing. Transparency is key in blogging. If you disclose why you want high rankings, then everyone knows why and it's a non-issue...if you're doing it because you're a high-priced consultant, a learning theory expert trying to impose your vision, or a company trying to spin the PR your way rather than being honest and open, then you're not blogging, you're guilty of trying to dominate the conversation.

Dominating the conversation is like someone who swings a hammer to crack a stone. Their goal is to subdue the environment, to break it then reshape it into what they see as right. Rather than welcome diversity, they condemn the expression of others, impose their narrow vision of what should be said and how change should be accomplished. Simply, they sit in judgement from their lofty position at the top.
We've seen the effect of such conversation domination in our ill effect, NCLB the perfect example of domination of if reading experts could proclaim their "A-List" status and impose their myopic vision on the rest of us. If NCLB is a monument of hard, cold stone, then no wonder that people would like to break it down with their hammers.

Stephen's next question just gets me all jazzed up:
What if the best way to influence people is to give away your ideas and to let other people take ownership of them?
Of course, the best way to influence people is to give away your ideas, and let others take ownership! But, people are mistrustful of this approach. I have been conditioned in a variety of ways by significant others to question what is freely given, to assign it a "no value" label. And, this is a big problem.

Overnight, I'm supposed to believe that everyone became a saint? In our American culture, "you get what you pay for." With this type of attitude, what hope have we, as educators, of embracing solutions that can transform our work and our lives?

Free, open source software in schools...and the whole open source approach...Clearly, establishing this in schools flies in the face of conventional wisdom. We pay for the best so our children get the best. However, what happens when the best is free and we have the power to modify, to own the ideas (e.g. Wikipedia), the software (e.g. OpenOffice), the tools we use to communicate and collaborate (e.g. The Read/Write Web)? The answer is simple. We don't believe it. . .to accept what is free becomes an act of faith, a defiant act of rebellion. You become the person who can be laughed at because you ARE a deviant. Who can believe a little lichen could break solid rock?

Bloggers may characterize schools as isolated boxes where learning experiences are scripted, not created. Nothing is done in schools that is not controlled, regulated, bound by procedure and practice as hard as stone. Schools are artificial structures, created for a short time to meet specific goals in an age long ago.

Can we honestly believe that changes desired will come about without cracking that stone? Can we honestly believe that certain voices won't seek to dominate the conversation? As more teachers and administrators join the ranks of edubloggers, I start to believe in the power of lichen...I see edu-bloggers, not the giant oaks and maples around us, but the smallest of us as wielding the most power.
...lichens slowly degrade their substrate by chemically degrading and physically disrupting the minerals, contributing to the process of weathering by which rocks are gradually turned into soil. While this contribution to weathering is usually benign, it can cause problems for artificial stone structures.
Otherwise benign, our collective ideas will degrade and disrupt the artificial structures--those we call schools--that have built up over the years. It will happen, slowly, inexorably.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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