I've just wrapped up a class in which I was required to participate in online threaded discussions. I was hoping for some good discourse on curriculum theory and development. Instead it turned into a lot of, "Why, yes, I agree with you completely," and "I couldn't have said it better myself." I found myself becoming purposely oppositional in my responses. How can any really good thinking and learning happen if there isn't a healthy dose of differing viewpoints? And, pray tell, was the response to my opposing viewpoints? Silence. Last time I recall so many people with similar thoughts was 1984¹.
My classmates were just trying to be nice, which is understandable. It can be awkward and uncomfortable to deal with conflict. However, it's that dissonance in opinion where real meaning is made; that hacking it out between differing opinions, that purposeful attempt to sway people with differing views while they try to sway you.
Recently, in response to a new "top edublogs" list posted on a well-read blog, Dan Meyer and Darren Draper have expressed differing opinions on (perceived) motivations for blogging, what constitutes quality in a blog, and even "proper" Twitter use. I've found this disagreement extremely interesting to follow. I subscribe to both their blogs and find them both to be excellent at starting good conversations through their posts. They both create dissonance and then ask for their audience to weigh in with their opinions. While Dan tends to stir the pot² and Darren tends to ask quite nicely, they're both doing essentially the same thing.
It's been enjoyable to see these two heavyweights (they're 23 & 35 on the best edublogs list of all time, after all) discuss whose method is superior. While I don't think they're going to change each other's mind, they're laying some excellent framework for the edubloggers of the future. These types of public disagreements are important- perhaps necessary³- for hashing out what exactly it is to blog about educational matters. Think of it as a modern, blogging version of the Continental Congress.
Anyone care to disagree?
¹ "Why, yes, Big Brother certainly is a great leader!"
² or "[Dan's] just shaking the bee’s nest while covered in powdered sugar, a big ol’ grin on [his] face and [a] buddy taping the whole thing for some sort of amateur Jackass production."
³ As long as you jerkfaces don't turn it into nastiness and namecalling.