I’m not one to worry overly much about properly targeting my posts or tweets, or appropriate scheduling of posts, etc. I have nothing to sell, and am content to post sporadically about whatever happens to seem of potential interest or amusement to myself and my Eleven Faithful Followers (#11FF) – who I love and appreciate.
Still, I do try to stay in the general realm of education policy or subjects of historical or pedagogical interest. If I think I have so very much to say about hockey, or They Might Be Giants, or superhero movies, it wouldn’t be so difficult to set up another blog.
Oh god – imagine MORE of me carrying on. I just felt the full inanity of that for a moment.
I lack the pressures of a huge following. Normal weeks a few hundred people visit some part of this blog or the associated goodies, and of those a few dozen stay for any real length of time. My Twitter and Facebook accounts have similar numbers – I’m there, but I’m not, you know… a thing.
Still, I couldn’t help but notice this past week – as I melted down a bit over the ongoing public executions of black youth and the subsequent white disparagement of those silly negroes and their uncivilized reactions - that despite the regular ‘New Follower!’ notices, my numbers dipped overall. The likes and shares stopped, even for the traditional stuff. The zany commentary on life in the classroom. The spikey insights on our edu-natures.
Which is fine. But I noticed.
It could simply be that I went way off my usual topic base for long enough people lost interest. It’s also likely that my approach to the entire subject alienated or offended or just annoyed people. I do get going.
I’ll be back on topic after a few days out of town doing holiday stuff and watching some #DallasStars hockey. I’d like to do a post about ‘cognitive dissonance’ and its role in history and in the classroom. I’m sure it’s also a major factor in the ability of otherwise decent, intelligent people to believe that pretty much anytime a black kid is killed by the police, they were probably asking for it. Always. Every time.
That power never corrupts, race never shapes our assumptions, and people never try to cover their shame. That human nature has dramatically changed in recent decades, after centuries of being pretty much the same. That the bell can toll for you all it likes – I haven’t done anything to make it toll for me, so maybe if you’d stop being however you’re being...
But I probably won’t write about it that way when I do the post. I’ll stick with historical examples, or anecdotes with a little emotional distance. I’ll be thinking about Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Kimani Gray, Kendrec McDade, and others who look a great deal like my students but whose deaths don’t change much for my peer group or many of my friends. But I won’t call it out so much.
Because the real slap-in-the-face by reality this past week is the reminder that nothing I have to say is so powerful or effective that it changes minds or mindsets. I’m simply not that important.
Don’t grab your tissue and start typing fuzzies in the Comments box – my self-esteem is fine. Most of us aren’t that important – not to the extent that a few words of outrage reshape paradigms for all who hear them. Besides, I’ve been reminded of my place in the universe before, and no doubt will be again. The universe is very consistent that way – kindly kicking our lil’ egos back into line when we stray.
I’m sticking with my foundational delusion – that over time, through sheer persistence, monkey and typewriter, I’ll nudge a few people a few small degrees. That something will be amusing at the right time, or helpful, or resonate in some way. Like in class, the results are rarely dramatic – and may be negligible. Hell, they may not exist.
But what else can we do?
What else is there, other than to keep plowing and watering and pulling and hoping you’re not just making it all worse? I assure you, if I saw an opportunity to be more dramatically useful, I’d take it.
Those of you stuck with me in real life will receive no such relief. We’re invested in one another personally and professionally. You’ve earned the right to call me out or laugh me down and I’ve earned mine to wax prosaic. We’ll just have to endure, I suppose.
On an unrelated note, there will be shirts. Like, Blue Cereal Education shirts. You won’t be able to buy them, but you can earn or win them. I know, right? The perfect demure brag on your insider status as one of the #11FF. The perfect gift for that person you’re not actually sure you should buy gifts for but they seem to like, um… not being topless.
Happy thoughts to each of you. Perhaps we see through a glass darkly, but surely between us we can experiment with angles and light and assumptions until there be gleaning. Maybe we can catch a few... useful glimpses.
I am thankful to each of you who share your LEDs at one angle or another. You are treasured. I leave you with me: