This week I was pleasantly surprised to read a post by a well connected educator urging us fellow connected to slow down. I read it and let my shoulders relax for a moment; it felt like a message I had been waiting for. Over the course of the past year I’ve really gotten into the edutwitter swing for what it’s worth. My number of tweets has been steadily climbing and I feel increasingly brave about putting my own views out there for comment. There’s a part of me that is proud of myself for pursuing the new and unfamiliar, while seeking outlets for my natural inclinations (developing a sense of neigborhood in the twitterverse, for example). There’s another part of me, however, that is still skeptical and questioning: What is this really all about? What’s my ego investment? and who’s actually benefitting from my online engagement?
And then I read a tweet or an article or watch a video. There is a change. In me. A response is occurring. Whether I tweet it or not, the change has happened. A brief sharing strikes a chord and reminds me of my own situation. I look at a statistical graph showing me earning differences based of levels of educational attainment. When I watch the video that accompanies the data, I reach a more significant understanding. Most of the people speaking in the video are brown like me: they are the researchers, educators, community advocates, academics all describing the impact that education has on health outcomes. The graph becomes real, relevant, fully human and of genuine concern.
This type of experience necessitates slowing down. It requires digestion, processing, think time. And yet, the temptation was there to stop at the graph in the twitter feed and say, “yeah, yeah, we know this…” and keep scrolling. In this case, I’m glad I took the time to listen and learn and become aware, once again, of how much I do not know.
Another experience of comparing notes with a fellow educator about our respective youngsters preparing to start school gave me pause of a different nature. So close to home, that anxiety about my child in school and what his experience will be like. Although I know a lot about schools and schooling, the bulk of my own child’s experience in school or day care, is largely unknowable. Acknowledging that reality calls for nearly stopping in my tracks, breathing deeply and granting myself a moment of gratitude for all the moments which allow me to provide my children with an education regardless of how they do in school.
My twitter use has become a both a personal and professional source of community, knowledge and understanding when I consciously take the time it requires to discern, contextualize and think through the messages that induce an internal shift. Matt Miller’s message arrived at just the right time. It’s definitely time for me to slow down. Catching up in the interim will be mainly with myself.