Treading a fine line

Confession time! I lost my nerve yesterday about a post made by a colleague.
Angus McRury had put up a post where he expressed his concern for the long term viability of the school. His school roll is dropping and the numbers entering the school are getting smaller and smaller. On reflection he was right to share his worries.

However, when I read it I immediatly thought about how a parent would feel if they saw the post. I was worried that a parent might think that the school might be in imminent danger of closure (it’s not) and choose to send their child to another school rather than have their education disrupted a few years down the line if the school closed. I felt Angus’s post might compound the situation. Readers of my blog will hopefully have picked up on the fact (and this is perhaps debatable) that I am trying to challenge the traditional hierarchical relationship between education managers, headteachers and teachers.

I dropped Angus a line and expressed my concerns – the problem with a note from “your boss” is that it can sometimes seem more like an instruction rather than a suggestion. Anyway – Angus changed his post and took out all references to the notion of Innerwick being a “dying school”. However, when I read Ewan
MacIntosh’s Blog tonight he referred to the original post and thought it showed the importance of schools as places of education and a headteacher’s passion for his school. I gave Ewan a Skype call to let him know that Angus’s post had changed. We had a great chat and in the course of our conversation I realised I had made a great mistake in getting Angus to change his post. Here was a teacher – who had returned from being sick to find that his numbers were dropping and the viability of school possibly under threat. He had the courage to share his feelings.

The problem with expressing feelings is that they can often lead to hurting the feelings of someone else. Nevertheless, teaching is a human enterprise and perhaps we should be more prepared to share our feelings – as opposed to just sticking with bland descriptions of our daily practice (e.g. my blog).

There is such a fine line in providing people with the freedom to express their feelings and the need for censorship because of fear of litigation or disciplinary action. I suppose the future of Exc-el itself could be compromised by one inappropriate post. However, on reflection I made a mistake and I hope Angus can forgive me.

I’d like to invite peope to comment on this post with ideas about how we provide a medium for opening up the education process, through things like exc-el, and the necessary judgement required for self-moderation.