I read a great post about the “echo chamber” (I encourage you to read the whole thing) from Corrine Campbell, a teacher and Assistant Principal from Sydney, Australia, that shares the importance of disagreement in learning. There are many great points about how there are so many similar conversations on Twitter (I agree with her on this), that we need to really focus
The beauty of genuinely engaging with someone I don’t agree with, rather than trying to argue against them, is that it stretches me. It forces me to re-examine my beliefs and put them under scrutiny. I may emerge with an even stronger commitment to a particular stance, or I may find my self shifting on issues and adopting a new position. This is healthy, and it is to be encouraged. For me, encountering ideas that force me to re-think my own, is what keeps Twitter a vibrant place of professional dialogue and learning.
Unfortunately, I agree with her
I really believe that it is important to value the “naysayer and antagonist“, as opposed to discrediting their thoughts and simply being dismissive. It is easy to go to extremes, but we should really look for solutions that are closer to the middle.
But in the spirit of Corrine’s post, I decided to pushback (she had lots of comments agreeing with her…OH THE IRONY), and challenge why the echo chamber is sometimes needed. Here is my comment below (that I might have edited a bit since I wrote it a little too quick on her blog!):
Just for fun…I am going to push back
What do we do about the echo chamber in our own schools that sometimes promote the opposite of what many say on Twitter? I think a lot of educators go on to Twitter to share their views because they might actually be in the minority of the “echo chamber” in their own schools.
Personally, that echo chamber helped me a great deal in my work.
Sometimes I would share an idea to my staff and they would think it was not a great direction, yet someone in my network would share the same idea with a different spin or context, and then I would share their post or video with my staff and they would think it was genius. Often, it was basically the same thing that I had said several times. Many suffer from the fear of expertise in their own midst (personally I hate that and try to promote as many people that I work with as experts), and sometimes that echo chamber offers a different voice with the same opinion. What I believe is that even though the ideas might be the same, the delivery is often different. That is needed for different people. What appeals to me, might not appeal to someone else, and vice versa.
That being said, if we are truly going to be innovative, we need to push back on each other’s ideas. We would be annoyed if our students posted on each other’s blogs and all that they said was “great job!” because they are not pushing conversations or learning from one another. The key, again, is delivery.
There are many educators on Twitter that push back and that is good, but if we don’t listen to each other and just keep yelling our beliefs and seeing who can be the loudest, that is not respectful of learning or each other. Your model of asking questions (seek first to understand) of one another is so crucial. We need to understand viewpoints and context of differing situations. What is brilliant and works for your school, and more importantly, your students, might not be useful to mine, or vice-versa. If anything, we should know now more than ever that there is no standard solution to education; it is more about personalization than standardization. But in every conversation, we need to be open to learning from each other, whether we agree or disagree.
My question to you is, is not why the echo chamber is bad, but why it is needed? Is it something important in our work in our own schools? I would love your thoughts.