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Posts Tagged ‘mirror

Local social media lit up last week after a performer from Henry Park Primary School showed the middle finger on national TV.

The aftermath was no different. As expected, the boy was given a talking to and he was remorseful.

The Twitter reaction thread was easy enough to analyse. For simplicity, the reactions fell into three main camps: Tweets that lauded the boy as a “national hero”, people who blamed anyone or anything other than the child, and all other reactions, e.g., leave the child alone.

These are the types of responses that give Twitter and other social media platforms a bad name. This is a pity given how educators worldwide have embraced Twitter as a medium for connecting and unPD.

Such blasé and negative responses were common even before Trump’s tweets became the new normal. Why?

There is the usually cited reason of facelessness. Online there is no one to literally look in the eye and subsequently face judgement. This encourages the mild to become be bold, and the already bold to troll.

There is a brutal honesty to such tweets because social niceties are sacrificed in favour of raw reaction. What people might not realise is that being on social media requires even more social awareness and skills in a faceless environment.

If conversations like these were conducted in-person, we might label them moronic. Our faces and reactions serve as mirrors so that discussants can gauge their own behaviour. Perhaps, somewhat ironically, the lack of physical presence holds up a mirror bigger and clearer about our lack of social nous.

One of my approaches in life and in education is that it is better to be cruel to be kind.

I would rather be candid and even blunt if you need to be told you are wrong. I would rather not pad a punch if you deserve it.

I reserve such directness for contexts when a bridge is clearly out and only I can sound a warning. Most other times I can gradually and gently get to the issue.

However, I know that my role is often that of the critical mirror during discussions. If people talk nice or skirt the issue, I will be frank and direct if I sense that if the hearer is not listening.

For example, I have been approached by two corporations with grand designs on educational technology. In one instance I was asked to say something nice about a delivery platform. In another, I was asked to give feedback on a product release.

In the first case, I was said I was not a mouthpiece for the company. Furthermore, in my previous capacity of researcher, I had found evidence contrary to the claims of the company. The company had not dug deep enough and I offered to provide a more balanced view.

The second case is pending and will remain in limbo as long as the company thinks I will offer my time and effort for free. If I offered it, my review would one that combines experience with a distillation of reflective practice and critical research. You would not ask an accountant or a dentist to do professional work for free. I do not work for free either.

In both cases, I hold up a critical mirror to the companies so that they might reflect on their current practices and attitudes towards potential partners. A hard look reveals things they might not like to see, but that is something I offer for free because we all benefit from reflection.

Thanks to this tweet, I read and reflected on a response to the click-and-comment bait article, With her son’s PSLE results in hand, milestone reached for co-founder.

My response is this: All of us responded with support or attack, for the son or on the mother respectively, simply because the story is not isolated.

We responded because the story is a magnifying mirror that highlights an ugly spot we would rather cover up or not see.

But it is plain to see and we are right to judge because we are bringing up what we do not like about ourselves.

Yes, the mother loves her son. But there are different ways to show it. Some say there are 50 shades of showing it. (Oh wait, that is something else!)

Some ways help, other ways hurt. Some ways perpetuate the type of schooling and parenting we would rather not subject our children to. If we do, they will learn from us and teach that to their children. In the PSLE of life, we an F grade for that and there is no alternative pathway.

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