Monday, November 14, 2016

#WeirdEd Week 128- Puppies, Kittens, Otters, and Hedgehogs

Last week the election happened. It kinda screwed me up. I know I'm not the only one. I know it didn't hit me as hard as it hit others. I'm not trying to speak for anyone but me. I'm not trying to discount anyone's experience by talking about my own.

There are going to be repercussions because of this election that we can't even see yet, and that freaks me out. I'm what you might call a control freak about a lot of things. I know it doesn't seem like that, especially if you've seen my class or hear me talk about freedom in my teaching. But I'm in control of that chaos. What happened last Tuesday is a different kind of chaos. And over the last week, as choices and decisions begin to roll out, it becomes clear that what we knew to be true during the campaign was only part of it. And I'm not talking about the blatant white supremacy and overt misogyny.  All that was made real clear. But the echoes in all the other levels of government. The murder's row of names being bandied about for positions of power read like Captain Planet villains. But real. With actual power. Making them less funny and ridiculous and more scary.

I'm torn. I want to keep fighting the good fight. I'm angry and disgusted and need to feel active, feel a part of the movement for good. I thought I'd been doing that. I'm doing it in my classroom. I try to do it here, in the space we've created together. I tried to do it the day after the election, with an open chat to talk about how we were feeling.

I also can't stay like this for four years. Or even the two more months that we have before the real night starts. It's too dark for me. It's not healthy.

So I'm torn. I'm angry and I'm not giving up the fight. But I also want to write about silly things and be funny. I feel, like I feel in most things, that balance is the key. Balance in all things. I believe it's possible to hold two thoughts in your head at once. For example, I can be disgusted and furious that one of the guys closest to the next president is basically a Nazi. I can also write dumb jokes about teaching. Dumb jokes are one of the ways I stay sane. Both of them together are true.

I've always held edchats to a high standard. For a variety of reasons, most of which can be simplified to, "If you're calling it professional development and you're taking an hour of people's time, you better be kicking ass and giving quality." Some do, some don't, many recycle the same topics over and over. And over. And over, yes we know you think homework is evil, we heard. And yes, connecting is wonderful. I guess if my pony only knew one trick I'd make him do it a lot of times too.

But this week we needed more than that. I went on about this already on twitter, but allow me to be clearer and more detailed- I don't think we have to talk about the election and what it means every week. No one wants that. I could, but I'd hate my own chat and so would you all. We need breaks. But we also need to confront bravely and openly. I expect teachers who say education is the most important thing in the world, who preach risk taking and making lessons real world, to actually follow through. You're scared of the conversation? Good. It's a hard conversation. You should be scared. Take a risk. Talk about the real world. Or are those just blog post topics, keynotes, and book chapters? I don't expect everyone to touch the election in the exact same way. There's too many of us for that. Have your own voice, your own take, your own angle.

But to ignore it? That's disappointing to say the very least, and with less four-letter words than I'm used to using. To pretend that it doesn't touch us here in our EduTwitter bubble? I know there's some who are watched by districts and parents and who fear speaking their minds because of that. That's terrifying to me, honestly, that we'd be scared of being honest in a public space on our own time, but that's the world we live in now, I guess. I'm rarely smart enough to be that diplomatic. But I'm not going to tell someone to risk their job for a twitter chat.

I also know, very well, that I'm speaking from a position of privilege. If I were a person of color or a woman or both and I said the things I say online I'd have a heard of trolls filling my mentions. But white dude gets a big pass. I still get the occasional jerk, but it's not the same. Not in the same universe.

I know there are reasons some speak up and some don't. And at the end of the day I see those who get the most flack still speaking, still writing, still going for what's right. And I see some of (not all) the safest amongst us writing chats about connecting via twitter, or homework, or what a classroom should look like. That's one of the many in the How We Got Here column- Heads in the sand let it happen.

I will say that if you love teaching the civil rights movement but you refuse to bring it up in your chat you're playing a double standard. Why can we have a conversation with children we can't with adults?

We gotta fight loud and hard. We should be brave and be better. We should at least be having the conversation. Don't pretend the election didn't happen. Don't pretend the new guy didn't say he wants to take apart the Department of Education. That, at least that, you can talk about. Please. And when we do start to talk, we can't forget to also invite and to listen. We forget those two steps too often. Invite everyone, and listen with respect and a willingness to learn from a variety of perspectives.


And this is where I sound like a hypocrite. Because I've felt pretty crappy, and I'm trying to feel better. Not normalize. Not accept and move past. But feel better. I'm not checking boxes, "Yep, had the election chat, moving on." But I can't make #WeirdEd a solely political chat. It's also where we put on our clown shoes and throw pies at the stiffs (educational, political, and otherwise). Laughing at some of these people is a great weapon too. They're too weak to be laughed at. Not to get all Patch Adams, but it's a great healer. Heal to keep fighting. Heal to stay strong.

So this week #WeirdEd will be about all things cute as hell. I'm not kitten. We all otter be able to laugh. I'm going to be dogged in my pursuit of this too. If we don't go crazy we'll all go insane. We're going to be like the mighty hedgehog, an animal which Sarah Windisch pointed out is, "adorable, but also pointy."


  1. You named so much of what I am feeling. Thank you. (The Biden memes are what have helped me laugh. I felt guilty in that glee, but they were so good.) I too want to talk about edu and think we have to for our kids, but it's a tough time for sure. Thank you for writing this. ��

    1. I think it's gonna be hard to talk about because we're going to need to be explicit in ways we haven't before. But maybe it'll clear out some of the ugly in the process.

  2. "I also can't stay like this for four years. Or even the two more months that we have before the real night starts. It's too dark for me. It's not healthy."

    How I feel... I'm really weary and tired and sad.

    1. This is gonna be an exhausting time. We're in it together though.