Every so often I feel the need to write a ranty blog. I’m afraid this is one of those times. Apologies in advance if this is not to your taste, and I promise normal service will be resumed shortly. One cannot spend time on edu-twitter without encountering annoying tweets or blogs, though I do try very hard to curate my timeline to avoid such annoyances as much as possible. And of course, this is very subjective. What I find deeply irritating might be something celebrated by others. So, before I go any further, I will freely admit that what I am writing here are just my own personal pet peeves.
I must also assure you that these are minor ructions, and my love affair with edu-twitter remains undimmed. Being able to tap into the collective wisdom of educators across the continents is wonderfully enriching. I have learned so much through my interactions on Twitter, and even made some friends along the way. If it hadn’t been for edu-twitter, I believe I would have walked away from a career in teaching soon after my first few experiences of working in schools. If it hadn’t been for edu-twitter, I wouldn’t have landed the job I have now. Edu-twitter is overwhelmingly a good thing. However…
Some things do rub me up the wrong way. One pet peeve is poorly written blogs that get retweeted repeatedly on my timeline for being “brilliant”. I suspect this might be because they tap into the knowledge zeitgeist and use lots of elaborate syntax to dazzle people into thinking they have just read something extremely profound. To me they are poorly written because they lack coherence, paragraphs are largely absent, and instead of a clearly argued piece of writing they treat me to a long ramble that feels more like a stream of consciousness. What makes things worse, as far as I’m concerned, is that many such blogs are written by people who purport to teach English. Physician, heal thyself.
Another thing that annoys me is when I see behaviour that I can only characterise as waving a red flag to a bull. We all know there are some people on edu-twitter who are unpleasant, who tend to bully and victimise those who disagree with them. If I come across such a person, I sensibly take steps to avoid them in future (blocking is a great tool, not to be sneered at). Quite clearly, no constructive discourse can be had with such individuals, so it is best to walk away from their troublesome arena. There is no point calling these people out – all it does is give them a new target to fixate on. It then builds up into angry Twitter spats, with screenshots of outrageous tweets shared with all and sundry indignantly, thereby continuing to fan the flames. Life is too short. Don’t engage.
I get further irritated when I see some teachers boast about their long years of experience to either shut down a debate or belittle other points of views. Of course, experience matters. I don’t doubt that I will have accumulated greater wisdom five or ten years from now. But the quest for knowledge never ends. Those that claim to know it all should question their certainties and open their minds to the possibility that they might have spent years, even decades, being wrong about something. In any case, it is very poor form to try to win an argument simply by recourse to the number of years they have been teaching.
Also, what’s with all those snooty “experts” that are creeping into my timeline, showering us with condescension and disdain? “Read my book”, they say, too lazy to properly engage in an argument with those that might disagree with them. “My subject is far too complex for you mere mortals.” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but you get my gist. I have a rule of thumb about such things: the most expert of experts should be able to refute or support an argument through clear, logical reasoning that even a novice can understand. If they refuse to argue their point clearly, the suspicion arises that they don’t know all that much. I would like to see a little more humility. Some of the wisest people I know are also the most humble. I would also like to see a little more generosity. Share the fruits of what you know with others so that we may all benefit.
So there, I have got these peeves out of my system. May I ask nicely for bloggers to try to write clearly and lucidly in spare, economical terms rather than flowery language? Keep a coherent thread going through your writing if you want your readers to keep reading to the end. Be humble. Be kind. Avoid stirring up trouble. That’s it really. I hope you have had or are going to have a wonderfully restful half-term.