Welcome to the world of education’s professional learning on the internet. I have been seeing a disturbing trend lately, which seems to be the thing that motivates me to write blogs more now than ever. (Please accept this grumpy “old” man as he shouts at the wind.)
Putting your work out to the public, to the world, can be scary. It can be a challenge to overcome the fear of rejection. Having consistently put my own work out to the public over the past few years, I understand that there are people with whom you can’t engage or continue to hold conversations because the goal isn’t discussion. I am also firmly of the belief that if you did the work, you should share your voice. You never know who will resonate with your work, so we shouldn’t feel as though we don’t have a voice.
I want to dig into a different sentiment though. The new push from people who are catching pushback and criticism has been to simply say, “I don’t listen to the haters.” Sure that’s not new, but it is beginning to catch on with some of the biggest, most influential names in our field. It is becoming the standard response to people who disagree with your position. The sentiment is that other people are jealous, dislike you for your success, or are just being petty. I have seen it more and more. I have been blocked by high profile names in education on social media for asking questions or pushing back on something they’ve posted. I am not a hater. I am not jealous of the success of others, I tend to promote it and support them. There are many people like me out there, people who care about what messages are put out to the hundreds and thousands of people influenced by popular educators. Each time I see messages that are questionable, I ask the question. I try to do it in a respectful manner, but also publicly. I want people to think about the great sounding positions they blindly agree with because they make great sound bites.
The worry I see in this “don’t pay attention to the haters” mentality is how easy it becomes to ignore everyone. There is no surer way to create your own echo chamber than to stop thinking about the objections of others. I don’t expect you to engage with everyone, but ignoring them means you have given up on learning. It means you’ve given up on making your ideas better. You don’t need to make “haters” agree with you, but it is important to stop ignoring the voices that counter you. Understand their concerns and use them to make you stronger. Not everyone is a “hater” just because they disagree with you. Your ideas aren’t perfect, they are just like the rest of us, getting better and improving every day. If you don’t, you will look for the learning and only see your own reflection. You will become an echo chamber of one.