Sages and Lunatics: Blogs as the New EduText

Published: 2014-05-28 05:08 |

Category: Comment | Tags: teaching

This is the third post in a series reflecting on John Spencer’s Sages and Lunatics.

Most of the books are practical manuals on how to run a classroom. They offer quick, handy, time-saving ideas.

The time of the textbook has come and gone. Schools aren’t renewing subscriptions, moving instead to things like 1:1 programs or supplemental materials. Teachers are creating and sharing their own content on the Internet for anyone – including students – to find and use in their learning. Print isn’t dead, but its nature is changing.

At the beginning of Sages, John is lamenting the “Five Tips for [X]” nature of education materials in a bookstore. I remember purchasing my classroom management book, which was full of little tips and tricks on how to wrangle a classroom full of unruly teenagers. There was some theory in there, but it was lacking any recognition of the relationships that are also required.

I’m worried that popular blog posts have become our new “Five Tips for [X].”

Is there value in the quick list (I believe the new term is listicle) approach? Sure there is. It can be helpful to see some quick ideas when you’re in a pinch. The problem comes when every resource decides to take that angle. Nowadays, our culture has become so obsessed with the hyperbolic-headline listicle that it’s started to happen in education blogs. We’re a culture with a fixitnow! mindset…we want to try things out, and if they don’t work immediately, we move on. Call it perseverance or tenacity, but have we lost something in the resources we look to use?

On the other hand, perhaps it is in the content, not necessarily the format. There can be significant wisdom in brevity. Perhaps the quick look is what we need in order to feel inspired to dive in a little deeper. I think the danger in bashing educational print is that much of it is reproduced online in blogs, and we praise the best “Top 5” or “Top 10” posts when they come from photons.

Whatever the case may be, let’s focus on sharing wisdom, sharing background, and sharing depth as we all work to improve.

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