Authentic online spaces: Good or bad?

Posted on March 19, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Blog on Blogging, Eci834, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

This blog prompt comes at an interesting time for me as I have had a couple great conversations around this topic just recently. Both have to do with blogging and the conversations that occur because someone shared their thoughts/opinions/knowledge online; good, bad, or otherwise!

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Photo credit: Will Lion via Flickr

The first story happened in the last couple of weeks for me.  I have been blogging my reading responses for my other Masters class, EC&I 814 Critical Perspectives of Pre-school Edece-bookucation. We have been diving into topics around how to de-pathologize curriculum and re-situate early childhood education into an asset oriented perspective.  It goes along nicely with the anti-oppressive education work I have been doing this last year of my life.  In these posts, I often quote Luigi Iannacci who is one of the authors of our textbook, Early Childhood Curricula and the De-pathologizing of Childhood. I got an unexpected surprise one day last week when Iannacci emailed me through my blog’s ‘About page’ (which as a side note is why it’s important to have a contact form on your blog) and commented on my blog post. He was very encouraging…

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This led to me emailing him back, and we have had a little conversation back and forth for the last couple weeks. He has been very open and genuine, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask him if he wanted to Skype/Facetime in with our class during my presentation coming up on March 28th. He was more than happy to do it, and we have been figuring out exactly what that will look like.

But what can I say? What an amazing opportunity for myself and my classmates to actually talk to the human behind the stories and theory represented in our text. This opportunity happened BECAUSE I blogged my reading response for the world rather than wrote it for my professor. No, our conversation didn’t happen in the comment section of my blog or in a discussion forum, but none the less, it happened because of my blogging platform.

What do I take from this?

  1. Teachers need to give their students opportunities to write for someone other than themselves.
  2. Authenticity is inspired in others when it starts with me.

 

The second story happened to a friend of mine, Claire Kreuger. By the way, she has given me permission to tell this story. She has been blogging her thesis– HALLELUJAH! (I am so glad that this is starting to become a thing.) And she has had some interesting conversations around some of her posts. The story she told me yesterday was where her authentic online space did not go over so well.

Through her thesis, she has been actively trying to disrupt her own understanding of Whiteness, colonial spaces, and privilege. Her thesis is an Auto-ethnography, which involves her using stories from her own family, classroom and experiences. In her post, H is for Headdress, she explains why it is unacceptable for non-indigenous people, children included, to be wearing and making headdresses. Though this issue has been brought to light multiple times in the media, and in education, it still seems to be happening quite frequently. Claire mentions how even her own daughter made a feather headdress in class last year.  This is actually where the authenticity/openness of her blogging takes a turn for the worst.

Shortly after mentioning her daughter’s craft in her blog post, Claire got an email from her child’s teacher with the principal cc’d. The teacher wanted Claire to come in and chat… Uh oh! Anytime a teacher is willing to schedule a meeting on Friday after school, you know it’s not to talk about some awesome answer the child gave in Science that day. Sure enough, the teacher and principal wanted to speak about her blog post. The teacher

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“Blog With Authenticity Without Getting Fired” photo credit: Search Engine People Blog via Flickr

felt like Claire attacked her in the blog posts, and was telling others that she was a bad teacher. She had printed off pages from Claire’s blog (kind of ironic, right?) and challenged Claire on what she had written. Claire had to do damage control and explain the situation.  She told the elementary teacher that she thought she was an awesome teacher, but that Claire did have issues with that craft in particular, and how Indigenous people were being (mis)represented on a classroom and even school level. She tried to
apologize to the teacher and principal and explain that she was not trying to condemn the teacher per se, but rather address what her daughter had shared in conversation at home. Her daughter’s lack of knowledge and language around First Nations people was actually more of an issue than the craft itself, especially since Claire is actively trying to educate her own children about First Nations content at home. It is a symptom of the bigger systemic issue, and Claire clearly pointed that out in the blog, or at least she thought she did. Though the conversation was awkward, it was one that probably needed to happen on both accounts.

In this case, Claire being open and authentic in her blog caused tension with her face to face relationships. She was forced to stand behind her convictions and call somebody out on their racially insensitive actions. Though she was pressured to censor her opinions and thoughts, she found a way to adjust her blog’s comments, but not erase the story itself.

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“Blogging Readiness” photo credit: Cambodia4kids.org via Flickr

In either story, the good news is that the blogging platform brought out conversation, good or bad.  The public nature of the writing brought on discussion. The openness of the content spurred on more conversation. It can’t always guarantee that other’s will be authentic or genuine, but it sure helps when you know the writer is starting from that place.

 

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8 Responses to “Authentic online spaces: Good or bad?”

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Love this post – you do a great job of bringing in real, compelling examples. It was really interesting to read Claire’s story as well – thanks for sharing.

Thanks for Sharing both stories Danielle. It is important to remember that both good and bad things can happen when we publicly post information. I would agree that good came out of both situations. It’s unfortunate that the teacher felt attacked and that they had to have a discussion, but I’m sure that the discussion was good for all parties involved.

For sure the ability to post online can bring out some negative things. Some of them have to be said. Some of them are ignorant. This is where I firmly believe that technology and interacting online is a literacy that must be taught to our students. In any forum people have the right to disagree- it’s how you do it that counts. Many adults have not figured our appropriate behaviours online, and the only way our kids will learn them is if we are teaching it.

Thanks for sharing these stories! What an incredible opportunity you’ve created with the writer of your text!

[…] forums, ideas are directed towards a larger audience and more interactions may take place, such as Danielle’s serendipitous contact with the author of her […]

[…] the confines of the classroom. With these in mind, there are many pros and cons to open or closed. Danielle had some examples illustrating some of those exact issues. With most things in our teaching job, […]

[…] footprint and learn how to interact with others online, following the proper netiquette. Just as Danielle has been able to interact with the author of her textbook, how amazing would it be if our students […]

I am so excited that you were able to connect with Luigi through your blog. If you would have just handed in a paper copy of your reflection we would never had the opportunity to Skype him in our EC&I 814 course. As for the Clair story I am glad that she stood her ground and disrupted things.


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