Should Kindergarteners be using Twitter?

 Last week I offended someone. For those of you who know me, that might not come as a shock, but I’d like you to bare with me. I was reading an article about Twitter in a kindergarten classroom. I re-tweeted it and called it reckless.

@ginrob_pt P. Tucker

Rather read about their understanding of SM and privacy-reckless! MT @OISELibrary How a SK class uses Twitter to learn http://bit.ly/qttEum

@happycampergirl was good enough to engage me about it on twitter, and I am hoping she will respond to this post. Since my initial re-tweet, I’ve learned more about her and what she is doing. Not that she needs my approval, but I think she’s doing a good job. She seems to have the current privacy of her students well in hand, and she is using twitter to do really interesting stuff. She has found a way to use it for a very engaging, authentic, ongoing, literacy, learning activity. If you disagree with my objections below, you should check out her blog about it @ http://ow.ly/6xJ7f . If you disagree with my points, you could hardly find a better use for Twitter with kindergarten students; however, if I were a parent of one of those children, I would not have signed the parental consent form; I would not allow my child to participate. By the end of the post, one of 3 things will be apparent: 1) I was reckless to call her reckless; 2) she was somewhat reckless in using twitter; or 3) we both were reckless.

Objection 1: The invisible curriculum.

By using Twitter in the manner described in her blog, this teacher is violating the terms of use set out by Twitter. This, and behaviour like this, has the unfortunate effect of teaching students 2 lessons that we should wish to avoid. First, one is teaching their students that they don’t have to behave ethically by modeling this behaviour. The “terms of use” are an explicit social contract. Twitter is a free service but it is not freely offered. The conditions for use must be followed; Twitter is someone’s intellectual property. You have no right to it unless you follow their conditions. If one wishes them to be different, petition the company or attempt to get an injunction…in either case, in order to fulfill the requirements for ethical behaviour as set out by social contract theory and by our courts, we must abide by their conditions in the meanwhile. Second, students are learning to ignore the “terms of use.” By passing them off as unimportant you are helping to foster a climate where people ignore the fine print. I don’t think this is a safe mentality, nor is it one that will guard their privacy or utility in years to come. If you aren’t worried about you students learning these lessons because they are too young to grasp the concepts; well, I might agre.  This, however, brings me to my second objection (later): if students are too young to grasp the complexities of the digital environment, perhaps they are too young to be using it.

It is startling that people in education want to extend the reach of a company in the market place, even to places it doesn’t dare go on its own. Twitter has rejected young children as a market to deliver to its advertisers; why are teachers trying to do it for them? Has twitter seen a danger we haven’t? Have we even asked?

Objection 2: Do they understand it?

The digital media environment is complex and difficult to understand. It is frustrating, but without a deep understanding, my warnings fail to alarm people; I find those who understand media better are more receptive to my arguments for caution.  Twitter, for example is not a conversation; it is not the same as talking to someone.  Twitter is a publishing and broadcasting system; it is also a business with a complex business strategy.  How can one properly prepare kids to use media, if s/he doesn’t understand media theory?  My objection is: teachers might not know the dangers that are out there (and there are out there); therefore, it is dangerous for them to lead their kids into SM.

I use twitter for limited purposes with my intermediate gifted students in late January or February, depending on when they are ready – when they know enough. I think kindergarten is necessarily too young. 10 % of them still cry on Monday mornings; some believe in Santa Clause (even that Virginia kid); that a bunny hides chocolate eggs for them to find because the world is a wondrous place; at least half of them don’t understand the difference between commercials and TV shows; they certainly don’t understand the techniques or reasons for them. Sadly, I think most teachers don’t understand the digital environment either.

One can’t just read “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky or watch him on Ted.com, though those are a start. He and other technophiles are great and inspiring but not necessarily critical or cautionary. Teachers have to read things like: “Understanding Media,” by Marshal McLuhan; “Amusing ourselves to death,” or “informing Ourselves to Death.” by Neil Postman. Teachers have to analyze media like Twitter using something like this: http://bit.ly/eedUBq . Do you think it is a conversation they are having? Then you haven’t read http://bit.ly/jnbeUU by Danah Boyd, or http://bit.ly/pmqlSh by Alexis Madrigal.  Teachers even need to figured where their students or even themselves reside in Twitter’s business model?

If you do understand all this, do your students? teachers might be able to keep them safe in their class, but by normalizing twitter at such an early age, students/children will not approach it critically the next time. They won’t give it the respect/caution in needs. (“ahhh, no big deal, we used it in kindergarten; I know all about it)…will they use it next year or in two years by themselves? Do their parents now think it is harmless because it was introduced in school?

What’s the rush? There must be other less abstract ways to get your students to relate and talk to others. What advantages does the digital environment offer to kindergarten students that cannot be replicated by other means? What great advantage outweighs the negatives? Eventual participation is not an argument for early exposure. Students will do all manner of things when they grow up: drive, drink, enter committed sexual relationships….is early expose necessary? I think that they are too young.

Yes, @happycampergirl and others are doing great things with Twitter…but there are other great things they could do (I have no doubt). Things that are age appropriate that their students will better understand. Use media that is more immediate, mundane and less abstract. Have them talk and read to each other or the class down the hall. Why, in our multicultural schools, do we have to abstract an opinion from across the world? They are right across the hall. Make a chat room by arranging your desks in a circle. Get them to know each other and share their diverse opinions.

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  1. #1 by Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) on September 24, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    Thank you so much for a thoughtful and fair post. My response is already brewing, and I’ll link to it here when it’s ready. I do have to immediately say, though, that your last paragraph grossly underestimates the average 5-yeard old: my students are CONSTANTLY VERY engaged in face-to-face interaction, conversation, and communication. They talk, write, read, for and with each other, their teachers, the 1st graders in our wing, the 3rd graders upstairs, the janitor, the secretary, the principal, the fire inspector who has the (mis)fortune of being sent to our classroom, the UPS employee who happens to be at the office when we pass by, the plumber fixing our sink, the guy from the linen supply company who replaces the mats in the entryway… you get the picture. Direct, effective, interaction with the people they encounter is developmentally hardwired to be their priority. I couldn’t replace that with Twitter (or any other social media tool) even if I wanted to. In fact, even when we are gathered at the whiteboard to check our messages, they are busily engaging with each other in side conversations… Come hang out in Kindergarten sometime – they will engage with you, too!

  2. #2 by Patrick Tucker on September 25, 2011 - 8:18 pm

    Thanks for your post. You’ve been generous and gracious under…hmmm…scrutiny? Criticism? I don’t think, however, I’ve grossly underestimated kindergarten though…I speak to my son (6 years old) everyday; I find we are always improving his ability to converse – that was the point I was trying to make. Well, that and the fact they are still learning about the world and abstract environments can confuse them (I know it sometimes does with my grade 7/8 gifted class). Your point that they are talking to each other while engaging their twitter use is a good one, and I should be more mindful of that point; it seems that you are primarily using it as content for conversation.

  3. #3 by Christina Carrion on September 25, 2011 - 11:03 pm

    I am also a Kindergarten teacher whom recognizes the importance of teaching responsible use of technology and yes, even social media, with my kindergarten friends. The way I view this tool is that it can connect us to others across the globe and we can learn with and from each other. Much like I have created a professional learning network via Twitter, I envision my students being able to do the same with other classrooms throughout the world. They will not have there own accounts, nor will their names be posted on a tweet, but they will have an opportunity to have an authentic audience veiw and respond to their comments. While I do not have face to face contact with those in my Twitter network, I do value and learn from those within it. I also have young children at home, 9 and 11. I would not allow them to break terms of use policies, however, I do share what I am learning with Twitter, when appropriate and would encourage an interesting reply through me onto Twitter. All teachers should be making a shift from the front of the classroom to facilitating learning through all forms of media, no matter the age. This generation needs us to model appropriate use at a young age, because they do not know a world without it. Food For Thought!

    • #4 by Patrick Tucker on September 27, 2011 - 5:55 pm

      My point is that not every use is appropriate. Also, they need us to exercise appropiate caution – not just use!

  4. #5 by Ben Sheridan (@b_sheridan) on September 29, 2011 - 10:15 pm

    I’d like to take a moment to add to the conversation. I’m not commenting to agree or disagree with whether Twitter is appropriate for Kinder. If you read this article (ttp://tinyurl.com/4xynlq2) I wrote it will be very clear that I agree with using Twitter in the Kindergarten classroom.

    What I take issue with is the fact that you called a fellow educator (a widely respected one at that) “reckless” in a public forum. After doing so you stated that “Since my initial re-tweet, I’ve learned more about her and what she is doing”. So am I to understand that you called a respected professional “reckless” to at minimum 228 people (# of people who follow you, not to mention your blog readers) with what you readily admit was an ill and/or under-informed understanding of what she doing with or how she was using Twitter? That would make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

    After reading your blog I don’t see your approach to blogging so much as stimulating a conversation around a specific topic but rather a forum for you to point out what you perceive as shortcoming with the work that others are doing. Why not try adding something (building) rather than taking away (dismantling) from what others are doing?

    After reading this post and a couple other by you I’m not clear as to the aim of your blog. It seems you state a point and then argue with commenters who may disagree with your view. Your blog doesn’t seem to be a place for conversation or a forum for sharing ideas. Maybe that’s not your aim?

    While I welcome alternative viewpoints I do so in a way which promotes discussion and an exchange of ideas. One of the things that excites me the most is when someone can convince me of seeing something in a new way or from an alternative point of view.

    I guess my point is that if you want to be involved in the discussion you might think of adopting a more respectful tone. Otherwise you’ll turn off someone who may give you the gift of a new perspective through discussion or collaboration.

    • #6 by Patrick Tucker on September 30, 2011 - 8:30 am

      Thank you for your challenging post. I agree that my initial tweet was a bit reckless. @happygirl took me to task on that (as she should have – I deserved it). The term is a bit uncomfortable and regrettable; however, I still stand be my assessment of her practise; she still stands by the acceptability of her practise. Before I blogged about it, I asked her permission which she gave. I also forwarded a copy of my post 3 days before I published it so she could vet it

      You Said: “After reading your blog I don’t see your approach to blogging so much as stimulating a conversation around a specific topic but rather a forum for you to point out what you perceive as shortcoming with the work that others are doing. Why not try adding something (building) rather than taking away (dismantling) from what others are doing?”

      You’re correct, my blog isn’t about a specific topic nor do I intend it to be. It is mostly thematically related by media and education. I disagree with your assessment that I am not trying to build something. I am trying to build a bank of arguments / counter points. I am trying to build the critical “other side” to so much of teacher’s public discourse. If I’m not doing it well, it might be because of the lack of examples of how to present this perspective. I’m not so much trying to dismantle something as challenge it. If you reread the first paragraph of the above post, you will see a little of that spirit. With critical thinking, you do point out the weakness, but not so the “tower collapses” but so the tower can be made stronger and not collapse.

      You also said: “After reading this post and a couple others by you I’m not clear as to the aim of your blog. It seems you state a point and then argue with commenters who may disagree with your view. Your blog doesn’t seem to be a place for conversation or a forum for sharing ideas. Maybe that’s not your aim?”

      I think at that you have correctly assessed my blog here. It IS a place for argument. I present a point; others take that point apart; I defend; hopefully, they critically respond to my defence. This sort of adversarial, socratic method is one of our highest academic standards. It is the language used in professional discourse among university professors. It is the language that upholds our legal traditions: the courts and the law. Both professors and lawyers (at least rhetorically), use this method to try to pursue and construct truth.

      Then you said: “One of the things that excites me the most is when someone can convince me of seeing something in a new way or from an alternative point of view.”

      I know exactly what you mean. I love that too. It opens up so much. The world can seem to change. In order to accomplish this though, most often, people have to tell me how I am wrong.

      Finally, you said: “I guess my point is that if you want to be involved in the discussion you might think of adopting a more respectful tone. Otherwise you’ll turn off someone who may give you the gift of a new perspective through discussion or collaboration.”

      I am well reminded of this. The whole experience has served to enforce this message. When you wrote this I felt the personal attack, even though you were respectful and moderate. I would do well to remember that feeling and be able to be more empathic to others; however, I also have enjoyed your post. I want the challenge; I want my argument to be attacked (maybe even defeated). I want this to be a place that an idea is confronted by its weaknesses so we can all grow. One-sided, adversarial debate may seem uncompromising; however, this is false. Afterwards, when 2 powerful arguments confront each other, reflection will find the best in each for a deeper understanding and a compromise.

      • #7 by Patrick Tucker on September 30, 2011 - 9:06 am

        Ps. Out ot curiousity, which posts did you read?

  5. #8 by Ben Sheridan (@b_sheridan) on October 1, 2011 - 1:42 am

    I’m sorry if you felt attacked, that wasn’t my intention. I realize that my comment was pointed. After reflecting on it, I think this struck a chord with me in that often as of late it seems that educators are getting an undue amount of negative press. Here we have a positive story about a new and innovative teaching practice that excites people only to have it slammed by a fellow educator. I’m not saying we should blindly approve or support everything another educator does or says. It’s just that if we choose to engage in a discussion (or argument) we should do so in a respectful manner. After reading your response I better understand your intentions and the aim of your blog.

    A quick aside, I realized the link didn’t work in my comment above. Here it is if interested:
    http://www.iss.edu/about-us/newslinks/article?storyID=9fc02d53-4b40-45a6-8f08-4c044665c338&story=twitter-in-the-kindergarten-classroom

    Best of luck.

    • #9 by Patrick Tucker on October 1, 2011 - 8:45 am

      Thank-you again. I think your response was challenging and I got excited about it. The feeling of attack came from my own insecurities, not your intentions. I like the idea of sticking up
      for each other; I think it’s important -I appreciate it as one of your motives. I would welcome a similar “attack” from you on any (or all) of my posts. They are all up for grabs; I don’t consider any of them outdated or too old.

  6. #10 by Tasha Cowdy on November 12, 2011 - 6:19 am

    I use Twitter in my Kindergarten class and I read your post with interest.

    You wrote, “By using Twitter in the manner described in her blog, this teacher is violating the terms of use set out by Twitter.”
    I would beg to differ. I can’t speak for Amy Murray as I don’t know the details of her class Twitter account. However I can speak of my own behaviour (you mention “… and behaviour like this…”). I have set up a class Twitter account, separate from my personal Twitter account. The account is my account, in my name. I use it to follow a select number of Twitter accounts, set up for a similar purpose. Together, my students and I read and respond to the comments that our followers have left. I type as the children watch the projected twitter page on the whiteboard. The children call out their suggestions and we collaboratively author the content. I do not believe this violates the Twitter Terms of Use.

    You wrote, “I think kindergarten is necessarily too young. 10 % of them still cry on Monday mornings;”
    (I wonder from which source you obtained your data concerning the 10%, however it is not relevant to my point.)
    I agree strongly with Amy Murray’s comment that your post, “grossly underestimates the average 5-year old.” I do not see the connection between a child crying on a Monday morning and a child’s ability to interact with digital media in a meaningful and purposeful way. To me, they are completely unrelated things. There are countless Kindergarten blogs celebrating the depth of young children’s understanding and making explicit and visible the thinking of young children, if one can make the time to find and read them.

    You wrote, “The digital media environment is complex and difficult to understand … I find those who understand media better are more receptive to my arguments for caution.”
    This is one perspective. Many people would argue that the digital media environment, while certainly not without dangers, is dynamic, exciting and offers possibilities in education that were not imaginable a short time ago. Many would argue that those who understand the digital media environment better are more receptive to using it to enhance teaching and learning engagements so as to reach more students and better prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.

    You wrote that, “Teachers have to read things like: “Understanding Media,” by Marshal McLuhan; “Amusing ourselves to death,” or “informing Ourselves to Death.” by Neil Postman.”
    In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman raises valid arguments about the effects of media on education and social culture. However, the book was written in 1985 -over quarter of a century ago. Understanding Media by Marshal McLuhan was written in 1964. Digital technology is changing at a incredible pace and so, whether we like it or not, is children’s use of technology. I wonder what Postman would have to say about how educators are using technology today to promote democracy and deeper level thinking in schools. I think he might approve of the collaboration now possible, and the shift away from teacher controlled content and towards empowering students to construct content.

    As educators we have a responsibility to help prepare our students for the future that awaits them; As Karl Fisch says, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” In order to keep up with the unprecedented changes in digital technology teachers needed to be reading about current research using up-to-date technologies.

    These quotes floated past on my Twitter stream earlier today from Kim Cofino:
    “Technology isn’t a tool anymore; it’s an environment”
    “A doctor from 100 yrs ago wouldn’t recognize today’s hospitals, but a teacher from 100 years ago would recognize today’s classroom.”

    And finally, you wrote “I agree that my initial tweet was a bit reckless … The term is a bit uncomfortable and regrettable;” and, “Since my initial re-tweet, I’ve learned more about her and what she is doing.”

    My Kindergarten students (and Amy Murray’s students, and the students in the hundreds of classrooms using Twitter to provide teaching opportunities that reflect the world we live in) are learning about their digital footprints; they are learning about digital citizenship and the importance of managing their on-line presence in a safe and controlled environment. They are learning that there are different perspectives, and other people, with different opinions can also be right. These Kindergarten children are learning that a reckless comment not properly researched and tweeted to several hundred followers leaves an indelible footprint. Hopefully they will be spared the awkwardness of an uncomfortable and regrettable comment.

    • #11 by Patrick Tucker on November 12, 2011 - 10:23 pm

      Thank you for your lengthy, rich response. I found I well written and well argued. I agree with some of what you’ve said. Other parts were well argued and presented and while I disagree, I think what you have said is valid – likely our disagreement is partly based on an honest difference of opinion. That being said, there are a few things I’d like to address.

      I don’t think you can both “beg to differ,” when I say, “as described in her blog,” and say, “I can’t speak for Amy Murray as I don’t know the details of her class Twitter account.”

      Also, I’m not sure if you can say that you don’t see the connection between something and then tell me I’m wrong at the same time; however, let me address it. My point was that children at that age are still coming to terms with the physical world around them; they are still learning to understand what is real in the physical world. I’m more comfortable with them figuring that out before I introduce them to an abstract world that changes the nature of space and communication and relies on a symbolic language that uses characters that some of them are still learning to recognize. I know that you also agree; I know you also work on the physical world with them. I don’t mean to imply you don’t – this is probably a disagreement on timing – I was arguing to wait – you disagree.

      I agree that “many would argue that those who understand the digital media environment better are more receptive to using it to enhance teaching and learning engagements so as to reach more students and better prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.” I agree that many would argue that, I just don’t happen to agree with what they are saying. I would agree that being able to have this conversation where 2 sides can meet and discuss is a great advantage offered by digital media.

      I would point out that the age of Postman’s and McLuhan’s work (as well as the more recent literature I referred to) is irrelevant. Age is not an argument of relevance – true we might approach them more cautiously, but works like Aristotle’s, the Magna Carta, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the U.N’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the works of Newton, Einstein, Curie, our treaties with Aborginals, are still pretty relevant to our modern digital world dispite their age – maybe because of it.

      I would take greater issue with your question regarding Postman. By writing, “ I wonder what Postman would have to say about how educators are using technology today to promote democracy and deeper level thinking in schools. I think he might approve of the collaboration now possible, and the shift away from teacher controlled content and towards empowering students to construct content.” I think that you show a lack of appreciation for Postman. While he would approve of less teacher control, few would ever posit that he would accept twitter as an acceptable way to educate (even the way I use it!). Try reading some of his more recent work (like “informing ourselves to death”) or see his recorded lectures on Youtube for a more in depth analysis of his opinion.

      The Karl Fisch’s quote as you have written it is interesting, but I think largely overplayed (Its almost become clique). It has always been the case that education is preparing people for jobs and problems (and a society) that didn’t exist current to their education. If it is about connection and conversation as you and others have argued, surely we can do that without digital tools. Surely, collaboration and critical thinking can be accomplished in a physical environment. If tech is changing so fast- the current tech will be obsolete. Why not wait and use what replaces it? Surely its moving towards being more user friendly and intuitive. The technology of the future will be easier to use; it won’t require knowledge of twitter. Consider a course that was offered to understand flash (though not to kindergarteners) – how useful is that knowledge going to be?

      I agree we must educate ourselves about current research and using “up to date technologies is a great help in educating ourselves.

      “Technology isn’t a tool anymore; it’s an environment” I agree! That’s my whole point in a nutshell. It is an environment; self contained and separate (though possibly not necessarily so). Lets focus on the physical one for a while before we add others. Call it scaffolding if you will. This is one of the points that we might just disagree on. I think we just disagree on the “when” as I’m not arguing “not to.”

      “A doctor from 100 yrs ago wouldn’t recognize today’s hospitals, but a teacher from 100 years ago would recognize today’s classroom.” I disagree with this. First of all, the inverse isn’t true. I recognize a hospital from a hundred years ago. We immediately and intuitively recognize the use of many things from the past. That is because they are similar and thus familiar. It has to work both ways. I have heard this quote before, but I just don’t accept it. My class and my pedagogy are fundamentally different from 100 years ago – I know the same is true of yours.

      You end with, “These Kindergarten children are learning that a reckless comment not properly researched and tweeted to several hundred followers leaves an indelible footprint. Hopefully they will be spared the awkwardness of an uncomfortable and regrettable comment.” I appreciate several things in that section. Firstly, I love the “indelible footprint.” I especially liked it because I read it as “inedible” the first time – I thought that made a great metaphor. However, I think its tone detracts from your points and point of view. I think that calling my actions reckless at this point in the “conversation” is a little regrettable. Hopefully, you are also teaching your students that its OK to make mistakes as long as you admit them. Hopefully, as part of their learning you are teaching them to be forgiving. Hopefully, your are teaching them that when someone is trying to rectify their mistakes, and maybe even move past them; you let them.

  7. #12 by Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) on November 13, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    As you requested, the link to my rebuttal is here: http://missnightmutters.blogspot.com/2011/09/backtalk.html?showComment=1321234810038#c5602304102423782012. Seems too long too post as a comment.

    • #13 by Patrick Tucker on November 15, 2011 - 8:39 am

      I am confused in 3 regards:

      1. Despite what you said in your response (interested 3rd parties can see that in the responses in the link above) to my response, your post was a fairly strong attempt at ending conversation based on tone, content and other factors, yet here you seem to wish to continue the conversation…you seemed surprised that you had struck a nerve…truly, was that surprise sincere?

      2. You have accused me of levelling an accusation and not allowing for disagreement. If you reread the above post (umpteenth time + 1), you notice I said to the effect: if you disagree with my arguments, then I endorse @misshappygirl’s use of it.” Since you obviously disagree, isn’t it the case, that I (to a degree of course) endorse your use of twitter? Isn’t that allowing for the other opinion to hold validity? Perhaps you took the post to personally (understandable considering the context) but I was also writing more generally – “You” more as the French “Vous,” rather then “Tu.”

      3. You have suggested that I haven’t spent enough time investigating your position. Possibility true, could you spend more time describing it. Specifically, I’d like to know how you see Postman’s 5 ideas from is speech, “5 ideas we need to Know Regarding Technological Change,” applying to twitter. You can use the graphic organizer on this blog (hit the Postman tag) though WordPress is cranky with formatting so you might not want to use a/that graphic organiser.

      • #14 by Adrienne on November 17, 2011 - 10:06 pm

        Mr. Tucker, I understand that you’re trying to get a better grasp of the argument. I suspect you may be feeling somewhat attacked after your “reckless” statement and that this post was written in your own defense. When one feels attacked, s/he often feels quite guarded (as opposed to open), and so I understand why you might be protecting your initial accusations.

        Yet, I wonder, do you regularly assign your blog readers homework, or did you make a special assignment just for @happycampergirl? Is this an attempt to prove yourself as smarter or more well-read? Are you testing her? Are people not allowed to engage in dialogue with you unless they’ve done the required reading? These are genuine, not rhetorical, questions. You pose this “Homework” as a way for you to learn more about her position, but the subtext of your request has a tone of arrogance – whether intended or not. Your assumption that Ms. Murray doesn’t know how Postman’s ideas apply to Twitter is rather condescending and unprofessional. Further, to ask HER to give YOU more information so that YOU can investigate her position further is simply a way of passing the buck. You are essentially saying that you don’t have time to spend reading her many blog posts or the abundant conversation bits she posts on Twitter (which, by the way, is used by MANY educators explicitly for conversation, quite contrary to what you assume above — tools are just that — tools. I can use a hammer to both create and destroy).

        Really, if you cared to understand her position, you’d spend the time to investigate it herself, rather than assign her a task to do via your blog.

      • #15 by Patrick Tucker on November 18, 2011 - 9:10 pm

        I once heard that 90% of oral communication is sent and received non-verbally. This means that the majority of meaning is transmitted through elements like tone, facial expression, body language, etc. If this is true, or even mostly true, it must be similarly true with written communication. With only the text to use to construct meaning, and with so much other information missing, it must be easy to miss-construct meaning. I believe that has happened with you and I. I don’t, however, believe that this was completely innocent on your part. I think that your preconceived or per-constructed notions of my intent has influenced your interpretation of my last response. I think you have fundamentally misunderstood my message and intent. You have only seen a pale shadow of me, my personality, or my intent; it would behoove you to be more tentative in your judgment both because of the imprecision of language and the limited information available to you.

        I hope that I am not falling into the same difficulty when I say, I had problems with your response. I actually hesitated in approving it (then I got really busy – sorry for the delay) because I wasn’t sure if I wanted it added to our discussion. I finally decided that I wasn’t ready to edit or censor debate, rather then on the merits of your response. I’m sorry to say, but I feel forced to a degree to say that, I found your post hypercritical and hypocritical – I think that you are guilty, in your post, of doing everything you accuse me of. I think that greatly detracts from your purpose or message. Generally, inherent self contradiction makes a statement difficult at best to respond to.

        I don’t know your previous experience with @happycampergirl, but I have found her to be a powerful and articulate advocate for herself and her position. With that in mind, I think if any patronization is happening, I’m afraid that its being committed by you. I’m not sure that its up to you to be offended for her and rush to her defense without invitation. She might not even have been offended – we’ll have to wait and see. If she is offended, rather then needing you to rush in and save her (and attack me), she and I will need to explain more fully our intent to each other and work out an understanding as two rational adults.

        If you wanted me to delete your above comment in light of my critic of it, let me know. I think that the persistence of comments on the internet raises the stakes too high – once we make a mistake by carelessness or as a function of bening still learning (as all adults should be) it seems harder to move past it. While caution is of course our best defense (a lesson recently relearned) I think that forgiveness and editing can be one way we protect each other as we learn and grow. We should be allowed to grow and learn even on the internet; we might have to help and protect each other in this manner.

        The other thing I’d like to mention, and this is more generally then just to you, I think that people should stop stating statements of opinion as if they were statements of fact. Specifically, I think to say that I am unprofessional because I do something that you disagree with should be tempered by saying, “I don’t think you have acted professionally.” You see, I too am a professional, and I have judged my actions consistent with being a professional. You may wish to debate it, but you cannot pretend that you speak for the standards of the profession (in Ontario the OCT does that), I think to pretend you are by making it a statement of fact, at the expense of our regulatory body, IS unprofessional.

  8. #16 by Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) on November 14, 2011 - 9:55 am

    Hmmm, it seems maybe you are no longer moderating comments. If this is the case, I congratulate you for it. I think you will find that it helps maintain a more steady flow of conversation, even when you are not logged in. I always love coming back to my computer to find that one of my posts has generated conversation, even in my absence.

    • #17 by Patrick Tucker on November 15, 2011 - 8:23 am

      In the interests of accuracy, I have not changed the default settings regarding moderation. It appears that the default is set so you only need to be initially approved; after that, you have full access. I’m not completely clear whether that is always true, true for a limited time, or true for a single thread… Personally, I think an initial approval is a good safe guard. It might increase the asymmetry of ‘conversations’ a bit, but it doesn’t change the nature of the ‘conversation.’

  9. #18 by amichetti on November 19, 2011 - 12:00 am

    “Specifically, I think to say that I am unprofessional because I do something that you disagree with should be tempered by saying, “I don’t think you have acted professionally.” You see, I too am a professional, and I have judged my actions consistent with being a professional. You may wish to debate it, but you cannot pretend that you speak for the standards of the profession (in Ontario the OCT does that), I think to pretend you are by making it a statement of fact, at the expense of our regulatory body, IS unprofessional.”

    Actually, what I said was “Your assumption that Ms. Murray doesn’t know how Postman’s ideas apply to Twitter is rather condescending and unprofessional.” <— copied and pasted from my original reply. That is, your assumption was unprofessional. Not you, the assumption you posted. Two different things. I’m not talking about you as a person or as a teacher, but what you posted.

    Nobody said I was offended, least of all myself. (I’m not.)

    My understanding of you is limited to what you post online. I’ve spent some time on your digital spaces. I base what I say on what I have seen there. What you post online shapes how others view you. The NYTimes wrote about this just this week.

    • #19 by Patrick Tucker on November 19, 2011 - 10:27 am

      Thanks for the response. I don’t know why it languished in moderation – given what I posted above in response to @misshappygirl…..

      You said, “That is, your assumption was unprofessional. Not you, the assumption you posted. Two different things. I’m not talking about you as a person or as a teacher, but what you posted.”

      I don’t agree that these are different statements. How I am acting is a manifestation of who I am. When someone is crying for example if we state, “(I think) they are acting sad,” is that really different then saying “(I think) they are sad?” “Being” and “Am” are the same verb – the difference is semantic or maintained by people not thinking carefully about what is said. Regardless, it still should be said as a statement of opinion not as fact for the same reasons detailed above.

      Thanks for the recommended reading. While I think that it is a good article, and I am glad you pointed it out to me, I don’t think that it contradicts my point but serves to enforce it. Secondly, the assigning of homework by you, while not objectionable to me, serves to highlight the contradictory nature of your points…

  10. #20 by Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) on November 20, 2011 - 11:37 pm

    I am going to leave one last comment, and then walk away.

    For someone who has mentioned “tone” numerous times in this conversation, it would serve you well to be more mindful of your own. it seems I am not alone in finding your tone here condescending and arrogant. I have re-read your comments here, and on my blog, many times over, trying to “hear” them in an open, conversational, genuinely curious tone, and (in spite of being able to successfully do so in other situations), I just can’t seem to get there. Other people I respect have said the same.

    Your homework assignment to me is profoundly patronizing, and your offer to Adrienne to remove her comments in the name of protecting her digital footprint is insulting in the extreme.

    In the months since our first interaction, I have repeatedly said that: “respectful conversation makes us all better.” This conversation is no longer respectful (to be honest, I’m not sure it ever truly was), and so I am bowing out of it here. Conversation continues on my blog: http://www.missnightmutters.blogspot.com, for those who are interested.

    • #21 by Patrick Tucker on November 21, 2011 - 10:39 pm

      I’m going to try to keep this short. I can’t help but feel some relief that this conversation will soon be over. I know that neither of us have enjoyed it particularly well. I’m going to try to avoid questions or anything untoward that might tempt/induce you to respond to respect your intention. I like the symmetry of both of use declaring out intent to stop on each other’s blog. That being said, you should feel free if you are so inclined (not that you need my permission of course).

      Recently, I have been talking about interpreting tone more then tone itself. I think it behooves us all to question and ask for clarification. I have been moving more and more to that point as people begin to comment more and more of how I said something rather then what I said. Now maybe my tone has been confused at times. I think that I’ve been genuinely hurt by some posts, but it is equally true that people are interpreting my tone in the context of other people’s criticisms. How I am being read has been tainted by previous posts and people’s earlier and, in my opinion incorrect interpretation. The balance has shifted too far. While some comments on tone is always part of a conversation, it shouldn’t be the whole conversation.. Honestly, if that is the only thing people wish to argue and point out at this point, I don’t see the point. If people judge me harshly as rude, arrogant and the like, feel free to read and post else where.

      Specifically you said, “Your homework assignment to me is profoundly patronizing.” I can see how you can interpret it that way, especially after the earlier comment calling it homework. I can see that, but I’d interpret it very differently. You have repeatedly said that you have considered the ramifications of using twitter in the classroom. I have repeatedly said that I think an understanding of Postman is fundamental in that regard. I have been criticized by not bothering to find out what you think. I made an attempt to do so. It is a framework I value; it would go a long way to arguing your point (which is a conversation that I’m still committed to). I should have offered you the option of using another framework as it is unlikely that you use Postman but I didn’t—you could have suggested it I suppose. I feel that trying to make the opposing party understand your point is fundamental in discussing and arguing. In your post on your blog we were assured many times that you have thought it through methodically; I just wanted some clarification for understandings sake. Sorry if you took it as a challenge, I thought it was part of sharing and learning together. As to homework being necessarily patronizing, I think that is something I’d disagree with but I digress

      As an aside, I think that people are confusing limitations as intend at times.

      You then said,”…and your offer to Adrienne to remove her comments in the name of protecting her digital footprint is insulting in the extreme.” Again I can see where you might see that as insulting; however, I know that my intent was honorable. In truth, I did find her post hard to deal with politely. I tried to dance around it a bit, but I found her post to be hypercritical and self-contradictory. If I had written a similar post, I’d like a chance to have it taken back too. Its hard to say tactfully, especially if people are already interpreting me a certain way. I would have loved to have had a chance to have re-track some statements – no one else seems to be in a charitable mood. Every time I have admitted a mistake, the next 2 comments (or so) are about how wrong I was and why they are teaching their students to be better. It has made me want to take a lesson from the U.S republicans and “double down” but I know intuitively that is a mistake as well.

      Truly, I think that your posted respons and response to me on your blog was no better in tone than mine here. I think that they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I think that we could both stand to be more generous and patient with our interpretations of each others writing.

  11. #22 by Patrick Tucker on November 21, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    Unless @happycampergirl or perhaps amichetti choose to post a further response here (in case they come to realize there is a loose end they want to tie up), I’d like to close the conversation at this point. Perhaps if someone had something substantially new to consider, I’d post their comment; otherwise, I am likely to moderate any post on this topic. I know many will disapprove. I am sympathetic to the reasons why people might object, and I might reconsider in the face of a response; nonetheless, there is some risk that I won’t post further offerings. As @happycampergirl suggested interested parties can still join the conversation on her blog by hitting the link above.

  12. #23 by Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) on November 22, 2011 - 12:10 am

    You do not need to post this, but please do me the courtesy of using my correct twitter screenname: @happycampergirl. I do not know who @misshappygirl is, but she certainly is not, and never has been, a part of this conversation.

    • #24 by Patrick Tucker on November 22, 2011 - 6:31 am

      Sorry…have no idea how that crept in…will fix soon ….fixed (no discourtesy intended)!

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