Most members of the educational blogging community are now well aware of the difficulties that have befallen Al Upton and his grade in South Australia. Fellow Aussie bloggers Sue and Graham have both written very cogent posts that both provide essential background and important reflections on the situation as it has unfolded.
The fact that Al has been so diligent and upfront with the parents of his students and the authorities and yet has had these problems is of concern. As the educational blogging community is growing so rapidly, (this evening I worked with six new bloggers and tomorrow evening I work with another group), many of these new entrants begin their blogging with a minimal appreciation of the potential for problems. They often have a “knowledge” that there are dangers out there but most often they don’t have a fully developed concept of the connectedness that blogging provides. This raises the question as to whether in our zeal to promote the many positive sides of blogging we may not be giving enough attention to the need to also hasten slowly, (not that this was necessarily the problem in Al’s case).
Another aspect of this situation that warrant some thought is the effect that this concentration of well meaning support and attention might be having on Al. (I realize that even my writing this post and the 2 comments I have left on Al’s blog is contributing to what may or may not become a problem however ….) There have been numerous cases where flag bearers for causes whether they are asking for it or not, have had the pressures on them magnified because of the focus on them. Support is important but….
Though on a different topic Will Richardson ponders the risks of excessive commentary in these reflections that given the level of support for Al may also have a place in this situation. As Will says
“Can anyone really read through 130 comments? Are we getting too distracted, too connected, too participatory for our own good? Are we simply adding to the echo chamber of nodding heads, or are we doing what we need to do to move the conversation out of the blogosphere/twitterverse/ustreamland?”
As many other commentators on Al’s and other blogs have noted, innovative practice rarely if ever progresses without at least one or two hiccups on the way. The important thing probably is to not indulge in mass hand wringing over these problems. Better to look upon them as opportunities to better learn how to use and present practice as positive and desirable.