Deep Understanding and Useful Dissent – At Your Service

 When John Stuart Mill was writing in defense of free speech he concerned himself with both the speaker and the listener. This right is as much about the listeners right to hear as it is about the speakers right to speak. The listener’s interest in the right of free speech is in the development and maintaining of autonomy; if one can not hear dissent or a counter opinion, then one can’t autonomously decide their point of view. If we only get one message, it is much more impacting; this bias can only serve to limit the formation of an original personal and autonomous position. In order to be a critical thinker, synthesizer, or evaluator, you need more then one opinion to work with.

This serves education well as a principle, but it also can serve as a metaphor to our pedagogical discourse. In education, without exploring both sides of an issue, technology, pedagogy or teaching strategy, we cannot develop deep understanding. It is only with deeply understanding the pros and cons of something, that we know when to use it, and equally important, when not to use it. Do we do this enough?

I have recently reviewed and reflected on most of my tweets. @tomwhitby recently expressed regret on Twitter regarding ½ of his tweets which motivated me to review mine. It was a long process and a little boring. The context of many had burned away (they age quite quickly). Fortunately, there are many ways and tools out there to do it besides reading through them all. @Missnoor28 recently tweeted a resource to make a book of your tweets and a resource to make a twitter inforgraphic. @rdlln recently tweeted a resource that posits a psychological profile based on our twitter activity ( As well, there is always the ubiquitous Klout score. Reflection on your Tweets is probably a good idea and can be done in a variety of ways.

While I didn’t regret ½ of them like @tomwhitby I found them kind of critical, even cantankerous at times; however, drawing from John Stuart Mill’s point, and my own ability to forgive / justify my actions, this can be a good thing. I think, I am fairly good at seeing counter points and arguments. I think that I am good at providing the voice of dissent (even if filled with typos and questionable grammar). In the belief that I am right, I offer this space – If you have a technology or pedagogy that you want a counter position for, reply below and I’ll try to construct a counter argument. Hopefully, this dialogue of point and counter point will help us develop deep understanding of educational practices so we can use them in a more sophisticated manner.

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