Twitter has been an invaluable resource for me since I began using it in April of last year. I have received support, shared resources, and learned a ton from peers and colleagues who I’ve had the chance to interact with. I’ve even had the chance to meet some educators here in Edmonton who I probably never would have known about if it wasn’t for twitter.
One of the first things I learned about twitter was that many teachers participate in twitter chats about specific topics. I soon started to join education chats to interact and learn from others. However, what I’ve noticed, and why I haven’t participated in many lately, is that teacher twitter chats do not have much room for critical dialogue on issues that impact education.
Too many twitter chats seem to be an exchange of platitudes and buzzwords without much meaning or critical lens. To be fair, I have been just as guilty as anyone with this, but as professionals we need to do a better job of embracing a critical perspective of what we do. Issues of race, class, gender, (dis)ability, sexuality and colonialism impact education. I have yet to see a twitter chat solely embrace any of these topics (#HipHopEd excluded). I understand that teachers enjoy being in a positive space where they can get positive reinforcement of what they do (myself included), but if we don’t work together to understand how the issues outside of our classroom impact what happens in our classroom, then no amount of platitudes or buzzwords are going to help us.
If we just sit around and compliment each other, how are we pushing our profession? How are we learning anything meaningful about what we’re doing? Sharing resources and ideas are of course a very beneficial aspect of teachers participation on twitter. But if that dialogue is completely removed from the political issues that shape teaching and education then what is the point? We must have spaces where we can critically reflect and be challenged on our practices without feeling offended.
Unfortunately, since most teacher twitter chats do not feel comfortable or provide a space for critical dialogue we just end up creating a conversation without any substance. If you think that the political issues that face education, or the socio-economic status of your students don’t impact your classroom or pedagogy, then you are unfortunately failing to recognize the purpose of education and the privilege that you benefit from.
Inequality and unrecognized privilege need to be challenged by teachers to create an education system that works towards creating a more equitable world. Let’s embrace critique and challenge when we interact on twitter. If we don’t, we’ll lose an opportunity to actually learn from one another and continue a trend of chatting without substance.