Elitism in the edublogosphere, or Edublarbification

Elitism in the edublogosphere, or Edublarbification

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My wife and I were joking last night about just how much the edubloging community likes to think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, doing great things for kids and moving the conversation about learning on to greater things. When I first started blogging, she kept asking me why I was always Blarbing and talking about other Blarbs. She likes to kid me that everything is 2.0 this and edu-something that. Well, being the funny woman that she is, my wife came up with the absolute best conference title of all time (plus a great subtitle and tag line).

Edublarbification: A 7.0 conference for a 2.0 world

Tagline: If you can figure out what it is, then you can come, virtually.

While this was always a big joke (which I didn’t stop laughing about for a long time), it got me thinking about just how much elitism there is in the edublogosphere. I noticed it when I was at Educon last month. There were a lot of references to the fact that “we get it” and others don’t. I engage in elitism whenever I use the word “we”, in fact. As if there was a community that I could possibly speak for… Every time I use that word, I am essentially saying that there is a “them” as well, all of those people who aren’t in the community.

As inviting as we (and I) try to be, I never really get the feeling that we get there. We seem to expect a certain level of devotion to “the cause” right off the bat. I’m not convinced that a little bit of elitism is a bad thing, but I do think that when my wife can lampoon it so easily and be so spot on with the sentiment that I see so clearly in the words that we write and the studies that we perform, it is hard to not believe it isn’t a little troubling.

So, I guess my questions are these: Do we need an event in the edublogosphere that will take us down a notch? Is there anything that will make us stop believing that “we” have the answer? Why do we constantly search for something new to know, so that we know something more than others do?

(Or, was it just a funny joke at our expense?)

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  1. Cassyt

    Thank you for this post. I thought it was just me.

    FYI- One problem not solved to easily by technology: did you mean “elitism” or is “eletism” a word like “Edublarbification”?

  2. JenWagner

    I found your post amusing and very accurate in what you shared.

    When asked recently what someone should bring to a popular tech conference, I suggested a “pin” to pop all the big egos that might be walking in.

    Not sure when the term “Expert” started happening within our network. But if anyone is anything like me, I am learning as I go, lucky enough to have made some good guesses, narrowly missing people finding out I am paddling as fast as I can, and never ever would consider myself as being “There”……

    I guess my question back would be — “Where is there anyway?”


  3. This post made me laugh out loud and hang my head in shame. Causing me to do both in one fell sweep is fairly impressive.

    I wouldn’t have missed Educon for the world and I think it was a wonderful conference and I learned a lot. That said, I have to agree with you. I don’t think this sense of elitism is unique to this crowd, but it is something worth keeping in mind as we continue discussions.

  4. Ben Wilkoff

    @Jenny, @Jen, @Cassyt Thanks so much for your comments. I know that other people recognize this too, but I don’t see it talked about that much. I tried to look in my Reader for similar blog posts, but it seems as though many of the people that I read have not identified this as a significant problem.

    I just don’t want to get too wrapped up in creating change to see the side effects of ego that come along with it.

    I am fine with being an expert learner, and that’s about it.

    When people look to us as experts, perhaps that is when we start thinking of ourselves as such. I would write another post about the false humility in the edublogosphere as well (“I’m too old to know all of this stuff.”), but I am not so interested in that as I am in making sure that we are still getting at what is really important: making sure that students learn in authentic ways that prepare them for the future.

    Perhaps we need a disclaimer at the beginning of all of our blog posts that states all of the flaws in our logic that we know exists. Again, thanks for the comments.

  5. I don’t know if the edublogger crowd has all the answers but we are certainly better at sharing our opinions. An interesting post with a dose of humility. Although there may be a community out there of teachers truly sharing exceptional worksheets, scantron tests, truly challenging word searches and tips with how to keep the kids quiet and in strait rows. They probably just don’t blog about it. All the best.

  6. Great post. I think that for me at least, it’s a lot less about elitism as it is frustration overflown. It hasn’t taken me long into my teaching career to have quite a few teachers tell me that we do it “this way” or “that way” because that’s the way we have been doing it for twenty years. I’m no elitist in fact I’m barely an “edublogger” but I know that it’s broken and that it needs to be fixed. And like you’ve been pointing out for a couple years, change is tough, and some egos will get bruised including our own.

    For the most part I want to think that most teachers are doing a great job with limited resources and unlimited expectations. When I see teachers sharing, blogging, and teaching each other through the web I get excited. When I see a slideshow like “the networked teacher, 2007” that changes my outlook on my career path and vision I get pumped up and want to tell the world that we can do it better and faster and with new ideas and a new vision. When I come across 101 tools and resources from some teacher in a district down the street from me, my first reaction is WOW!!!I want some of that!
    We use words that are ridiculous sounding, yes, and terms that are outdated and lame almost before we spew them out (web 2.0…really?) We kill terms and speak them to death, like 21st century learner 10 years after the century changed over. But, I’m beginning to see lights and connections around me that are inspiring me in my school, my articulation area, and my district.
    I must say though that your post made me think…again and I appreciate that.
    I don’t know if I have all the answers, some of the answers, or none of them, but I know that I will try to pour 110% of my knowledge, skills, talents and resources into my class tomorrow and that feels pretty good.

  7. I have to add something; after talking with my wife (also a teacher), always the voice of reason for me…thank goodness, I think that it’s important to clarify. I do agree that our use of terms and fancy talk, make it cliquey (is that even a word?) and non inclusive. Maybe the next step for teachers engaging in this discussion would be to find a way to get our philosophies, beliefs,and ideas out to more teachers without overwhelming them?
    I don’t know, just a thought.

  8. So many thought-provoking questions. Let’s say we get our philosophies, pedagogies, and ideas articulated, posted and commented: wouldn’t we explode? My philosophy has been to try to be good at one thing at a time. (Honestly, never works, but I try.) Educators seem to rush so much to get things accomplished, I wonder how we can do our best work.

    Will Richardson blogged a while back about how our networks can all get to be the same. For example, if your twitter friends become my twitter friends, then we all subscribe to the RSS feeds of the latest trendsetters and gurus, aren’t we all passing around the same information? Then that feeds the idea of “we” who subscribe and “they” who don’t. Well, this is my take on his thoughts. His post is here http://tinyurl.com/a55xtn

  9. I appreciate your honesty on this…
    one thing that feeds this elitisona (mashup with persona)
    is a tendency I catch myself in all the time:
    exaggerating small successes into large ones.

    Taking exceptional performances in our example pool and extending them to sound as though it is the rule rather than the exception.

    Mea Culpa!

    @shupester on twitter

  10. Ben Wilkoff

    I gotta say, I am really surprised at the level of response about this topic. Clearly, there is something about the community that needs a level of introspection. As we craft our answers to the question of modern education, we cannot be the mouthpiece of arrogance.

    I guess the only thing I can do is to speak for myself. I would like to set my own goal to ensure that my voice does not add to the ego overload: I will always write as if my wife were about to make a joke about the new edu-term or theory that I have just coined or taking part in. If I can’t have a self-deprecating sense of humor, I’m not sure I deserve to blog.

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