A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Clive Woodward learns to play by their rules
Previous entry: J. P. Rangaswami - gracious in victory
Wednesday January 02 2008

Incoming from Tom Burroughes, a friend from way back who now works for The Business:

Brian, as I mentioned at Perry’s, I’d keep an eye out for interesting material on education blogs. You are quite right, there seems to be a dearth of blogs written by teachers and other education professionals in Britain, for whatever reasons.  ...

I hadn’t actually put here that education blogging in the UK seems to be rather thin on the ground (although that has been my impression) because I am a very poor internet searcher.  It could just have been my impression.  But it is telling that somebody younger and more internet savvy than me also says this.

If this is true, then why?  I have a few guesses to offer.

Teachers in particular are too busy, and in spare time too tired, and not wanting to do anything too much like work in time off from work.

Concerns about confidentiality of the children.  My guess is that this is of more concern in the UK than in the USA, and that this is partly a cultural thing.  Americans do seem extremely eager to volunteer details about their families to the internet, and be less bothered about who exactly might be reading it. 

Quite aside from the Bad People thing, there is the matter of how children will feel, at the time, and later.  Will children welcome things about what they did when they were six being universally known about a decade or two decades later?  Most adults surey feel that children should not be “held” to what they said and did when young.  Such considerations must inhibit blogging of a certain kind, that is to say, of a kind that many adults do about each other.  (The trick, I would say, is to blog about education in some other way.  This is what I am attempting.)

And here’s a longer shot, related to the confidentiality thing: thinking that autobiography is obnoxious and egotistical.  Clearly you are entitled to blog about your own educational experiences, as, e.g., I note someone doing in my previous posting.  I even have a special category here – “educational memories” – to draw attention to such things, which I often find fascinating (e-mailers and commenters here please note).  But I suspect that the English in particular feel that autobiography is rather arrogant and pushy.

To change the subject of this somewhat, I don’t think that autobiography is necessarily at all arrogant.  The arrogant thing is to generalise too freely from your particular circumstances, to confuse the problems of your education with the problems of education.  A lot of educational commentary, including I am sure a lot of mine, is not so much about improving education in general as in retrospectively rescuing and correcting one’s own education.  The cure for such confusion is to come clean about the “I” stuff in how you are thinking.  If what you are really saying, to yourself, is that “when I was taught maths it was a horror story”, then put that, rather than “maths teaching is a horror story” for everybody.  The second claim is surely far more immodest and egotistical, because it embodies an inability to distinguish between your experiences and those of other people.

Or, as I always used to tell my Libertarian Alliance writers, when I was nagging them to write and nagging them about how and what to write: write what you know about.  (Or, if you are a blogger, link to those who do, or who seem to.)