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I would not normally recommend listening to a lecture, much less one from a comedian. But this one by Rachel Parris struck a chord.

Parents, teachers, and armchair philosophers might argue for or against the advice for kids to pursue their passions or dreams. Encouraging kids to pursue an interest seems like good advice, but what if these interests change? Telling kids to ignore their interests and bear with the paper chase is not good advice either.

Parris’ perspective: Our interests or passions change as we grow up. Anyone who carefully observes and listens a child knows this. So what we might focus on instead is the energy that drives such interests and passions.

This energy is clear when kids wake up early to go to practice. It is evident as the state of flow that players get into when gaming. It shows when they read up on an interest or passion on their own. These actions are all part of learning that that is intrinsically driven.

This is something that cannot be explicitly taught; it needs to be modelled. Such energy might be seeded, but the learner needs to nurture it or leave it. All a mentor or facilitator can then do is say: Follow your energy.

043e follow the leader by jjjj56cp, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  jjjj56cp 

 
In July, the press fell over themselves when the interim-CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, responded to Kim Kardashian’s suggestion on how to improve Twitter. Here is one example of a report.

That not committal reply received four-figure retweets and four-figure favourites. So do tweets by celebrities, social media superstars, and prominent people even if they said they just ate a bagel or farted gold dust.

OK, the gold fart might actually be newsworthy. But for the large part, people will fawn over and adore mundane navel-gazing as long as it comes from a famous navel.

Lesser lights who actually share something worthwhile, particularly in education, might get double figure retweets and favourites if they are edu-stars. The rest of us generally shout into the ether.

So it was no surprise when I asked @TwitterSG a question three weeks ago and did not receive a reply. After all, why should @TwitterSG bother with me if I am not a KPI or PR opportunity?

It made Twitter sense to acknowledge @mrbrown as he is Singapore’s blog-father and well-known in local social media circles. The Prime Minister has even mentioned him as an example.

That is not how we (should) behave as edu-tweeters. Visit any vibrant #hashtagged educational ‘live’ or slow chat and you will experience creative and critical thought 140 characters at a time.

We do not have that in Singapore because there is still so much fear and ignorance about educational social media in general and Twitter specifically. Many teachers here still do not seem to possess a global view or wish to be part of something larger than themselves. If they did, they would not say they have “no time”.

If there was a PISA-equivalent for teachers learning, unlearning, and relearning on Twitter, we would be a failing nation. We would then overreact by paying big money to visit foreign lands, attempt to recreate those cultures, and hold teachers to new one-size-fits-all standards.

Thankfully no such PISA-for-edutweeting exists. But if it did, it would at least create action. The inertia we have is so palpable it might take the form of a couch potato: It sits and watches and stuffs itself silly.

So what might @TwitterSG and teachers who say they tweet do? They might learn something from this simple exchange I had with a vendor of vending machines in London.

To date, that Twitter account only has 69 followers and been around since February 2011. However, it is a very good example of what to do in social media — being social.

I tweeted just before 1pm Singapore time, which was 5am UK time. But I received a reply just 20 minutes later. I sent a follow-up question and received a reply just three minutes later.

I was very impressed with the person who handled the vendor’s social media account. I have tweeted various groups here in Singapore (for example, banks and telcos) and I do not get such quick and satisfactory replies. More often than not, I get no replies at all.

If you are going to be on social media, you cannot just disseminate information. Whether you like it or not, it is a two-way street. Social media is about having meaningful conversations, not just perfunctory and easy ones. If you want to broadcast, go back to Web 1.0. While back there, see how you will lose relevance to and respect of the people you are reaching out to.

Edutweeting is not recreating traditional teaching behaviors online. It is not just about broadcasting, only showing up for class or meetings, or providing answers devoid of context and connection.

Edutweeting is about conversing, challenging, and reflecting. If someone asks an honest question, take the trouble to reply. If someone makes a comment that is not trollish, offer your thoughts.
 

Follow the Leader, Severn Valley, Glouce by Kumweni, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Kumweni 

 
Apple listened to Taylor Swift when she lamented how artistes were not paid during the free, three-month trial period of its streaming service, Apple Music. That was because she had clout. But this cannot be the only strategy for those in charge of social media channels to emulate.

@TwitterSG might chose to follow the example of its interim-leader. It has every right to. But it also needs to recognize the problems it is facing with its apps, its users, and its behaviour (I shared some thoughts on these yesterday).

Educators have a voice. We live in a world now where everyone can publish, broadcast, and dialogue. We do not have to follow some leaders. If we do, they will lead us down the wrong path in edutweeting because they only respond to the results of popularity contests. We do not answer to the celebrities; we are accountable to each other and to our learners.

We need to find our path. We need to be authentic and personal on social media.

It was Kermit the Frog who declared that it was not easy being green. He was talking about standing out.

It is not easy to go green (be environmentally friendly) and see returns for your efforts too. The video below suggests a simpler habit we can all adopt.


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But even the effort of buying responsibly can feel hollow because you are not sure what actual impact you are having.

How about doing the following then?

It is not easy to be green. It is not easy to parent either. But the latter is well within our grasp.

As parents and/or educators, we can all do something to nurture kids with progressive values that we can see in action a day, a year, and a generation from now.

Let our legacy be better kids.


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