Friday, May 11, 2007

The gatekeepers of truth

This is one that has been knocking about in my head for a few weeks now. I have touched on the matter in conversation with a few people, so you might have heard my musings on this subject before. My thoughts are still not really defined, but I need to unload them because they are taking up too much space in my head, and something in the graphic of this post from Mark Berthelemy has set the bees buzzing again.

In the not-quite-two-years that I've been reading, commenting on and writing blog posts, I have learnt more than in the preceding 17 years as a learning professional. Many of my ideas ideas have changed completely - not only in respect of my own job and immediate working environment, but on wider issues as well, both professional and personal. The list in my aggregator has changed often and continues to change. The posts that appear in these blogs, the comments on my own posts, the responses to my comments on other blogs, the conversation that is generated... all these things inform me, mould me and move me forward in my learning journey.

However, I have noticed that some people somehow seem to have become gatekeepers. The holders of "yes". They take issue with what other people have to say, but seem either to reject or ignore when people take issue with their views. They appear to have moved past the "that's a good point, I hadn't considered that angle" stage. I'm not going to mention names - that would be rude - but as you read this, I wonder if you aren't thinking of one or two people in your own blogroll/aggregator list who fit the description.

So who are they learning from? Are they still learning? How did they get into that position? Did they choose it themselves? Did they come to believe their own press? Or did we (their readers) make it happen?

We promote a we-are-all-learners-together approach to the classroom, encouraging teachers to move from sage-on-the-stage to guide-on-the-side. Some of our blogging teachers enthuse about how they constantly learn from their students, which is very exciting evidence that it works. But I'm a bit worried that we might be in danger of not practising what we preach in our online community. From where I'm sitting, we certainly seem to have developed a few sages on the stage. Am I wrong? Does their learning happen in an "advanced class" I have yet to discover? Like an Escher etching, am I fooled by the perspective of the view from where I'm sitting? Can I move to a different place where the view changes?

Just wondering...


Anonymous said...

It's an interesting subject Karyn. Blogging etiquette suggests comments should be conversational, rather than confrontational, but I've seen many contrary examples.

Your remarks ring true with what I have observed as well.

Love the etching link, that's a new aspect for me, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it's not just me! I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, what I don't like is when I see someone say what amounts to, "I disagree" only to receive a response that amounts to, "Well, you're wrong."

I'm not sure from your comment whether Escher is new to you, or just the analogy, but I have long been an admirer of his, and I would recommend anyone to spend time exploring his work. What is especially interesting is to take a chronological journey through his material, and watch the perspectives develop and unfold. Almost like coming to an understanding, a vision, a view. Very exciting.