Tom Whitby, in the above post, makes a great case for Twitter for educators. The only beef I have with his position is that I am not as sure as he is that educators were collectively ever that good at being relevant in the first place.
The issue of relevance has accelerated right along side the technology. Not necessarily because of technology, but in parallel. While education has always been contested public space, the last 20 years have seen massive shifts in both the nature, quality and source of those contests (for a great primer on that history, read Diane Ravitch’s book on American Education: The Death and Life of the Great American School System).
With the contested nature of education, platforms like twitter give us a voice. We can use that voice to collaborate, and I do. And we can use that voice to advocate, and I do. I don’t think we teachers have the luxury of remove from the political process anymore (if we ever did). The process of education is too politicized for us to not speak up whenever we have a chance. And the ability to force change in education is too powerful. Gone are the days when teachers could happily ignore policy by closing their classroom doors. And good riddance. It is because we were willing to hide in our classrooms, ceding the debate to non-educators, that we are in the pickle we currently find ourselves in.
Because we have a twitter stream (see sidebar), we have been able to connect with other educators, politicians and bureaucrats who are in positions of power, and members of our own communities and communities far away. We have had discussions that would have been impossible in any other historical time period. If we would be relevant in the classroom, we must be relevant in the world. Twitter is a way to have a voice. Is it perfect, no. But it is powerful, and the power is freely available to all who have even a moderate level of connectivity. So join the debate! Make your voice heard!
I’m talkin’ to YOU Mr. B!