Editor’s Note: ‘Tis the trendy season for trends, to reflect on 2014 and to make bold predictions about what next year may hold. This year, we asked thought leaders to share their outlooks on education, but with a twist. They have to frame their thoughts as a response to some of the finest college application essay prompts--yes, the very same ones that high school seniors are feverishly working on now!
Here’s what Jose Vilson, educator and author of This Is Not A Test, A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, had to say.
Tweeting has become the gateway drug for calling oneself a connected educator, the calling card for any teacher who wishes to gain entry into the now massive, international community of Internet-savvy educators. Twitter is the primary platform for this sort of engagement, though far from the only, and most educators who use this framework for connectedness always have a second or third platform for building community with other educators. Twitter's messages only require a maximum of 140 characters at a time, meaning the commitment doesn't feel as strenuous as other platforms, where full paragraphs are the modus operandi for engagement. Yet, I'm perplexed because, as open as Twitter seems, it's also created silos akin to the other, closed communities that people purported to be breaking out of. When our tweetstreams are a bunch of links and retweets to the same set of folks talking about the same technologies using the same language, how does that open our world to other possibilities and viewpoints? How does that make us more learned?
With the vast resources we say we're exposing our students to, many in our community rarely venture out of insular, innocuous tweets about tech, apps, and, well, more tech. Because talking tech (and not much else) has been the model for success, as measured by Twitter followers and retweets, we only need five or six ed-tech Twitter accounts to follow in order to get the full spectrum of voices. On the other hand, tweeting can be a powerful tool when we move away from trying to carbon copy the most followed and develop conversations that matter. Ileana Jimenez (@feministteacher) has found ways to get her high school boys to talk about the importance of feminism in their own lives. Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis) integrates tech with tweets about parenting, race, and education, which have been fascinating. Brittany Packnett (@mspackyetti) has worked diligently in Ferguson, MO to help teachers and the community at large through turbulent times in her community. Thus, please tweet. But now, we must tweet to broaden our horizons, not limit them to the boundaries of metrics and backpats.