As we’re almost at the end of January (where did the month GO?) I thought it was about time I blogged again. I have three ideas to release into the wild, so here’s the first one.
As I was walking to Uni today, I was musing on things I’d been reading, and why I’m here at all. The things I’d been reading have been about so-called revenge porn and cyberstalking online. This is very much a thing, and I have some personal experience of it. The victims are almost always women, and it’s basically where ex-partners (and those whose advances have been spurned) start posting malicious stuff online with a view to at least shaming and embarassing their victims, at worst destroying their victims’ personal reputations and lives.
In the UK, laws do exist to tackle this. However, the government is putting a bill through parliament which refers specifically to the platform which is used to make the material public – the internet. The police are (finally) being trained in how to tackle this crime, and with luck it won’t be long before the standard responses along the lines of ‘turn the computer off / boys will be boys / grow a pair / sort it out yourself’ become a thing of the past. It IS possible to identify the perpetrators and the law IS on the side of victims.
The thing is, though, sometimes victims feel as if they can’t, or shouldn’t, speak out and get vocal about the issue for fear of making the perpetrator redouble his (or her) efforts, draw attention to the abuse ancouraging more people to view it, or draw comments like the ones above. Mainly, they close themselves down and wothdraw from the internet. Sometimes they withdraw from their lives, being unable to face being out in public for fear of recognition.
And yet, silence is the very opposite of what we should so. We should all stand up to bullying in any form, and feel we can challenge the things being said about us or imposed on us without fear of being made to pay for our outspoken-ness at some point in the future.
Some of you will know that I had a very difficult time in my teaching position before resigning and moving on to higher education. I felt – and I’m positive that I wasn’t the only one – that I was unable to teach in the way I thought appropriate. Students weren’t put first – dictates from Ofsted, that have since been discredited and abandoned by Ofsted themselves, were put first, along with a desire to just get results at any cost. The people I worked with did as they were told. Maybe they feared for their jobs, and if so they were probably quite right to do so. There’s been more than one witch hunt carried out there. And I’m not saying that the way I wanted to do things was right either – in fact, while there’s plenty of research around how children learn, there’s precious little about how to roll this out in the classroom*. In fact, almost all dialogue on how best to deliver learning has been shut down, especially in the school I have the most experience of. The progressive model was the ONLY model, and any attempt to subvert it was dealt with harshly. Debate was stamped on. New ideas, often introduced by shiny new menbers of the senior leadership/management team and middle-managers were adopted with absolutely no attempt to ascertain if there was any evidence to suggest they might be beneficial or successful. If it was new, flashy, and involved some form of computer technology, it was in. I felt silenced. Gagged. Stifled.
That’s why I’m here, and why I want to make the platforms teachers use to express their opinions the subject of my PhD. People need to be listened to. Feeling as if you’re cut off, and your opinions are worthless, being DISEMPOWERED, is the one of the worst feelings. The bullies out there thrive on inflicting it on others.
*This is why Tom Bennett has set up ResearchED. It’s just what we need.