To blog or not to blog? – that is the question

What to do next I wonder?

What to do next I wonder?

The idea of starting this blog was to promote some discussion and possibly debate around the ways in which we may create education systems that are accessible for all learners, value diversity and support the development of a more just society. These are grandiose objectives and I have to admit that when I was urged to begin this journey it was with more than a little scepticism. Many of my colleagues will tell you that technology and Richard don’t go together – he’d far rather have his nose in a book (it’s probably true!). The blog was not my idea, but one that was rather thrust upon me by well intentioned colleagues at the University of Northampton as a means of promoting some of the work in which I am involved, particularly in India. It would, they said, be interesting to share my thoughts with others.

Having come this far it is appropriate to attempt some kind of evaluation of whether the effort has been worthwhile. Should I continue or has the time come to abandon the experiment and move on? I suppose the only way to gauge if the blog has had any value is to consider the replies that have been posted in response to my daily ramblings. Have they really promoted the discussion that was sought and have the original intentions of encouraging dialogue been achieved?

Several individuals have posted kind words commenting on some of the postings. Never believe a writer who tells you that they don’t appreciate good reviews. I am no exception and it has been gratifying to receive a positive reaction to my efforts. However, far more interesting in terms of the original intentions have been the range of thoughtful and perceptive comments posted by visitors who have considered the ideas put forward and expanded upon these on the basis of personal or professional experience. It has been interesting to see the reactions to some of my postings from colleagues, some known to me personally, others with whom I have engaged only by reading their work over a number of years, and to have had the benefit of hearing their opinions. Equally stimulating have been the contributions from individuals with whom I have had no personal contact who have informed my learning through their comments based upon personal and professional experiences. If anyone has learned anything from this blog I am sure it is me.

Whilst the discipline of composing a daily piece for publication has been an interesting exercise that has made a few small demands upon my time, the opportunity to read what others have had to say about the subjects covered has brought many rewards. Not least has been an increase in my own understanding of the ways in which those who have posted have thought about the issues of inclusion, social justice and educational values.

A recent posting by Kanwal Singh in response to my piece “Empathy not blame – a critical component of change” typifies the contributions that I value as assisting me in my own understanding of issues discussed over recent weeks. Kanwal expresses the opinion that:-

“There are no outright experts in inclusive education today and very few who can serve as models. What we need to do is to enter schools, not as ‘experts’ but as ‘partners’ -who pool in their respective effective practices and ideas to reorganize and create an inclusive school”.

What Kanwal articulates here is exactly what I am sure others who have responded to this blog also feel. Her contribution to the discussion is important not only because of the opinion that he has expressed but also because of the questions he raises that need to be further debated (Thank you Kanwal, I will think about a more detailed response – watch this space, as they say). Her call for the development of partnerships for the sharing of effective practices echoes the comments made by others over the past month. If this blog can provide a forum for discussion of important questions such as these then the experiment that I began with scepticism may be one worth continuing.

So, let’s see what emerges over the next few weeks. Perhaps the debate will intensify and the learning opportunities increase. In the meantime, I am grateful to everyone who has offered an opinion or observation and look forward to hearing more from you, and from others as we proceed. Thanks to everyone who has posted for your participation,  and to those of you who have been reading, I hope you will feel able to join the discussion.

"OK, let's go on and see what happens"

“OK, let’s go on and see what happens”

16 thoughts on “To blog or not to blog? – that is the question

  1. Hi Richard, I am a regular reader of your blog . I still remember getting involved in debate with my colleagues at N’ton uni. in your classroom:) I always liked debates and open dissussions. I find your blog – your work, questions raised, sharing of ideas quite interesting and inspiring. Many thanks to you for writing this blog . All I would request is – The ‘ Blog ‘ must go on..
    Many thanks again
    Warm Regards

    • Thanks Neha,
      I well remember your valuable contributions to all of our learning when you were an MA student. Keep up the good work

  2. I’ve been so interested to see your blog develop, Richard. I like the way you have drawn in other people, either from their replies or from your knowledge of their work and lives – I’m going to try that approach on the FDLT blog in the future. I have just had a look at your map and you have readers from right across the world – I love how the stats switched a few weeks ago so that you can pinpoint towns and cities in India where you have readers now.

    • Jean, this blog would never have got off the ground without your kind support. As a timid technophobe I needed the guiding hand of a good teacher and you fulfilled that role superbly. Sadly I do not have your talent to produce the artistry that characterises your blog. However, I turn regularly to its pages for inspiration.

    • Thanks Tim, Your contributions to the blog have provoked a lot of thought, not least amongst some of my students. This is greatly appreciated.

  3. Yes Richard, keep it going! Your blog has become my daily diet…..food for thought! It has helped me reinforce my views on an inclusive and just society.

  4. Hi, Richard, it is so tempting to stop reading about and working on inclusive education here in China with so much discouraging experience I have had ever since I came back. In fact, I could find thousands of excuses not to prioritise ‘inclusion, inclusion and inclusion’ in my professional life and still feel I am not to blame. However, your blogs remind me of the promise I made before I left Northampton in 2010 that I would keep working to promote inclusive education in China. I am in again and I would encourage my Chinese colleagues to also join the discussions. The time and efforts you spent on the blogs are highly appreciated. For me, they are inspiring as well as thought-provoking. Thank you very much, Richard.

    • Hi Mary,
      Your work in China is very important. I know the many challenges that you face and that you have very few allies there. However, the work that you and colleagues like Meng Deng are doing is already having an impact. I am sure that in the future Yumy will also be joining the task and eventually more will come on board. Keep working!

  5. Do keep blogging! I’m an avid reader. Your views and thoughts keep me hopeful of an inclusive education system working in India.

    • Hi Maitrayee,
      An inclusive Indian education system will be founded upon the work of committed Indian teachers such as yourself. I know that your work is already having a great impact and that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with you. Keep going – we will get there eventually!

  6. What do you mean by give it up and move on.
    There is no exit.
    Why escape.In measurement there is a false feeling of greatness or a frustration.
    We (you and me)atleast have to keep doing not knowing the effects.
    Inclusiveness is not only a mixture of the average and the non average kids,it is to me an integration of our own beings.
    Keep writing for the breeze!

  7. Ah Satish,
    It seems to me that not so long ago both of us were apprehensive of this modern technology. Now you have an I-pad and I am blogging! Whatever has happened to the world?
    In September we will continue the debate in The Valley and once more I will bring the inclusion propaganda to your door! In the meantime let’s share our thoughts through this less personal electronic media.
    Do give my love to everyone and everything in The Valley

  8. Hi Richard,

    I have recently started reading your blog and appreciate your thoughts and the underlying intentions. I wanted to share two points-

    1. Given my experiences of setting up a school that practices inclusion in the true sense, (absence of diagnosis, technical jargon, IEPs, experts)  I’m constantly debating and challenging the core practices of/with my very own special education community …..which is extremely difficult…but then someone has to do it! So after a day of stimulating but exhausting discussions and debates, it’s comforting and reassuring to read your blog and connect with people who seem to be on the same wavelength.
    2. Inclusive education usually involves a one way transfer of information, knowledge and skills. Experts and academicians from the West ( Countries of the North?)  come to  ‘train’ educators in India. Your blog challenges this practice by providing a forum for a two way communication and transfer of information. Indian educators have got the opportunity and confidence to share their learning and innovative strategies with people belonging to the academic community /countries of the North.
     
    Good to know that you’re planning to write a detailed response to some of my points– I would love to take the discussion forward. (And by the way, I’m a ‘she’ not a ‘he’)
     
    I’m sure it takes a great deal of thought, time and discipline to write a daily blog but I think you need to give it some time and see how it goes. Happy blogging!

    Regards, Kanwal

  9. Hi Kanwal,
    Firstly many apologies for getting your gender wrong – please forgive and put it down to western ignorance. I will make all necessary corrections.
    I am interested to know more about the provision you have made, it sounds very interesting. I agree that we need to be cautious in simply adopting western approaches out of context. Again a theme that I hope to return to in the near future on this blog.

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