Them’s fightin’ words…but, let’s talk it over


Wandering through the Web, here are some recent exchanges, first…

dy/dan » Blog Archive » On Vid Snacks, where I ask Dan, “Where is the milk of human kindness?” in his critique of Tim Holt’s VidSnacks introduction.

dy/dan » Blog Archive » Amateurs and Experts where Dan explains and, asks:

“Beyond that, what would you have me do? Aside from neutering my tone and critiquing corporate targets exclusively, of course.”

Neuter is a strong word, but rather than deconstruct Dan even more, I’d like to move it off from Dan’s posts (which was based on question worth asking — “what happens when amateurs invade the province of experts?”). Lets look at a positive example of a really great exchange of different points of view…

It starts here, » Does Using Technology Add Value To The Classroom? In Practice, with a post from Larry Ferlazzo questioning the value of technology in the classroom. This led to a lively discussion that continued with this post from Brian, » 1:1 Does It Raise Test Scores? Ummm … That Might Not Be The Point? It Just Might Need To Happen Anyhow In Practice, which could be seen as a rebuttal, but the tone of respect between the parties makes that word seem a little harsh. I added my observation,

“Larry is a classic hard sell, and I like to think that’s a good thing. I appreciate that he is willing to look into it with a study.”

I thought of this when I read, Around the Corner v2 – – Permian Tech Conference – School Improvement, where Michael Downs, Superintendent of Big Spring ISD in Texas, says:

You have to build capacity for change, and know where your problems and derailers are.

  1. Different change agents: U-Boat Captains – It don’t matter what boat is out there, they’ll try to sink it. The only way to solve that problem is to fire them. They’re not going to change. Don’t let the U-Boat captains keep you from moving forward. Be persistent.

Which led to me to think what is the difference between someone who is a hard-sell, who brings up the hard questions that should be answered before a project is implemented and someone who will undermine any change at all? When you are “firing” U-boat captains, and derailers, how do you make sure you are not simply shutting out any dissent or critical analysis?

I ask, because some of the things that Dan is asking (and that Larry asks) are good critical questions. I may not be crazy about how he initially expressed himself, but reflecting on how we express ourselves, what our goals are in using video and other new technologies, and about aesthetic taste, are not without merit. How do we make sure we’re listening to our “hard sells” in a way that will make a new project better, and more successful?

by posted under practice/pedagogy | 1 Comment »    
One Comment to

“Them’s fightin’ words…but, let’s talk it over”

  1. November 17th, 2007 at 7:59 pm      Reply mrferlazzo Says:

    Hi, Alice,

    Very thoughtful post. It brings two things to mind. One is a downside of electronic (and voice mail) communication — the absence of face-to-face dialogue can encourage much more needlessly harsh commentary through a less personal medium.

    I’m also reminded of Saul Alinsky’s quote: “The price of criticism is a constructive alternative.”


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