There is little doubt that the blog is dominated by voices that speak in opposition to District practices. People who are happy with the way things are going rarely feel a need to speak up and say so. Those who have concerns or complaints, however, are strongly motivated to give voice to them. Hence, our discussions are dominated by the angry, frustrated, outraged, disappointed, and discouraged. It's just the way that people work. It's human nature.
The blog is definitely here for those people to find fellowship, to get information, and to strategize together. But it should also be a source of information for all interested parties - regardless of their perspective on district actions. The District's inability (or unwillingness) to share information and the local media's inability (or unwillingness) to report on local education issues create the need for someone to step in and provide that sort of information. When that information is provided it should be available in as unbiased a form as possible.
I think it would be well for the initial posts in each thread to try to be an objective exposition of the facts. Then, opinions about those facts can be expressed in the following comments. That will allow those who just want the news to get it as cleanly as possible and those who want to engage in discussion to read the follow-up comments.
Regarding those follow up comments...
For the blog to work well - for contributors, commenters, readers, and simply as an entity unto itself - we must establish and maintain a culture that is welcoming (not just tolerant) of a variety of perspectives. I REALLY WANT TO HEAR VIEWS DIFFERENT FROM MINE. I am ready to listen and seriously consider other perspectives. I desperately want someone to challenge my presumptions and perceptions. I am really disheartened when those voices are shouted down. I see a role for the blog as a place for civil discourse, but civil discourse can only appear where no one ruins it with incivility. Go ahead and question people's thinking, but there's no place for insults, personal attacks, or making conjecture about people's motivations.
That said, civil discourse can be vigorous and rigorous. People should be ready to support their contentions with facts and logic. You cannot reasonably expect to convince anyone without being convincing. You cannot fairly expect to make statements challenging other people's perspective without getting your perspective challenged in return.
The people who post here are adults. I don't want to take on the role of censor and delete or edit uncivil comments. I don't want to take on the role of policeman and enforce some code of civility. I certainly don't want to take on the role of umpire and remind you all to play fair. I refuse to take on the role of nanny and ask you all to play nice. I don't need you to play nice - just fair.
The question then comes, how do we respond to those comments that threaten the civility of the discussion? For example:
Anonymous said...There is so much wrong with this comment that I hardly know where to start. I do, however, know how to respond: not at all.
I think Charlie Mass is way out of line on here. His comments make sweeping generalizations and assumptions with no information from which to draw. His comments should be removed. They are wrong and only perpetuate divisiveness. Charlie and Dorothy also serve up their entry with a little racism. Way to go! It's ugly.
8/17/10 8:56 PM
Let's hear what folks think we can and should do to make the blog more welcoming to a wider variety of perspectives. I want to know.