My Twitter friend Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) is a highly regarded connected educator, blogger extraordinaire, eLearning expert, thinker, writer and collaborator. He often uses the phrase “it takes a village” as a typically humble response to the gratitude or further dialogue he receives from others when he has shared something through his blog or on twitter. Aaron has blogged about this several times and often chooses to illustrate what he takes from the phrase by simply sharing other peoples comments on his blog posts. To mark his 300th blog post, he chose to invite those who have commented on his blog posts to respond with a short reflection or comment on what it means to us to be part of the village.
Please read Aaron’s full post A Village Takes Many Things – a fascinating and thought provoking collection of responses to a phrase that seems to resonate strongly with many of us. #ittakesavillage
I don’t often write “off the cuff” (I know I should) but in this instance I responded to the question more or less in the moment. I’ve copied my own response below.
It Takes Dialogue
I think that this phrase speaks to the complexity of teaching. None of us have all of the answers to the myriad of professional dilemmas that we grapple with, on a number of levels, every day. By connecting online, I’d like to think that we are each sharing our thinking and ideas and drawing on those of others for the benefit of our students. The complexity of teaching stems from the fact that every one of our students are unique, as are the interactions in every one of our classrooms. What works for me might not work for you but what works for me might just nudge your thinking towards something else that works in your context. Reciprocally, by distilling my thoughts into 140 characters, or being discerning about links and resources I share, and sending them out to the world, I invite feedback and dialogue. This shapes and influences the next stage of my own thinking and understanding. We are not going to put the [education] world to rights but we are doing our own small bit for the greater good.
I often ponder how the many years of relative isolation in my early career (I started teaching in 1992) might have been different. How my learning might have been accelerated by exposure to voices beyond the walls of my school and local area. What I do know is that, until my engagement with Twitter (and subsequent graduation to blogging), the breadth of my professional conversations was quite limited. I had my own department within my school supplemented by occasional face to face contact with a wider network of people (most often working in the same subject area as me). These external voices were part of local associations, national bodies and the very occasional conference. All too often though, these fora were about sharing resources and socialising (no problem with that) rather than discussing their application in context. It was not until I had the privilege of working in Initial Teacher Education that I came into more regular contact with a wider range of perspectives on education and some global voices. But even then, dialogue was still limited by hierarchies, opportunities and physical constraints on time and space.
I remember my anxiety at putting out my first tweets. I was cautioned by some peers against sharing too much. Someone might steal your ideas and materials! Thankfully I didn’t see it that way. I reached out to connect and learn.
Now I can’t imagine not being a connected educator. I’m very grateful to be part of the global education village.
And a final footnote: I’m now living and working on the opposite side of the world from where my career began but more connected than ever!