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Seeking the Contrary View

November 8, 2010

Over at The Tempered Radical blog by Bill Ferriter, I came across this recent post that summarizes some information about the current state of blogging.  Bill offers reasons for education bloggers to believe that they can have an impact and influence on the debates and policies affecting our profession, and also has advice about how bloggers can improve their reach.

Bill has always been quite overtly and consciously using his blog for his own reflections, but he has attracted many readers and a fair amount of attention, just by being himself.  And it’s important to note that he has attracted readers who disagree with him.  That’s what I’m thinking about tonight.

I suppose it’s natural to gravitate towards people we like, people we agree with and admire.  I’ve benefitted greatly from the ability to network online with some great leaders, thinkers, and writers in education. Professors, journalists, bloggers, teachers, activists, and many others have contributed to my ongoing education, and have validated much of my own thinking and writing on education.  My colleagues in the Teacher Leaders Network provided much of the same support and learning before I started blogging and Twittering.

But I want to be more like Bill – I want some disagreement.  There is value in sharing information with like-minded readers, but it would also be beneficial to reach some readers who disagree, and who will tell me why.  I’m worried about “confirmation bias” – the tendency to see things that confirm what you already believe while ignoring evidence to the contrary.  I love having positive and supportive comments on my blog, but I think I need more skeptics and naysayers, honest (but friendly) disagreement.  So, I’m looking for some help from anyone who cares to add a comment below.

In addition to Bill’s blog, there are about a dozen that I read quite regularly, but none of those blogs are written by people I consistently disagree with.  I do read blogs and articles that challenge my viewpoint, but I tend to come to them by referrals from people whose point of view I already know.  For example, I might read a blog or article where someone defends value-added measurement, but I usually find it linked in a blog written by someone I tend to agree with, or tweeted with a negative comment that colors my viewpoint going in.

Here are a few blogs I visit occasionally just to read viewpoints I might disagree with.  Sometimes the views are quite divergent from mine, and sometimes the difference is more in tenor or degree.

Flypaper – Fordham Institute

Straight Up – Rick Hess

Parent Revolution

And so, I leave you with a simple request:  tell me if you disagree with me, or tell me where you go for intelligent and thought-provoking reading that challenges your thinking.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2010 7:41 am

    I definitely want to follow the blogs of people I disagree with, if they write well, and have some of the same basic values I do: respect for the people we teach, and for the complexity of what we’re trying to do.

    When I was finding lots of new blogs to read (about a year ago), I was especially interested in the ones that had some disagreement with me. I knew I could learn from them. I follow over a hundred math teacher blogs, and I love the conversations we have. (My blog has a long list of them posted on the right.)

  2. bill01370 permalink
    November 12, 2010 6:38 pm

    I subscribe to the Hoover Institute’s Twitter feed. This gives me a number of links each week to articles (and not just on education) from outside my own personal echo chamber. Interestingly, sometimes I bump into one I mostly agree with, so I’m getting a double benefit – exposure to ideas I might not otherwise encounter, and opportunities to build bridges with people with whom I might normally expect to disagree. Dissenters to my blog – well, my primary audience is parents from our middle school, so a) I’m not that provocative to start with, b) Most people who read it are probably already more or else coming from where I am, and c) An embarrassingly small number of people read it in the first place.😉

  3. November 21, 2010 4:53 pm

    I read a number of teacher blogs and have had points of agreement and disagreement with them, generally leaving comments in either case. I, too, wish more people would leave comments on my blog, especially ones that disagree politely (I don’t want trolls).

    Some of my recent blogs that you might want to check include
    http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/wasting-money-on-interactive-whiteboards/
    http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/teach-like-a-champion-in-grad-school/
    http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/just-scoring-points/
    http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/value-added-teacher-ratings/

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