Urban Dictionary defines “Mansplain” as: to delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in the conversation.
So while I was writing the draft of last Monday’s entry, I found myself in one of those Twitter conversations that I sometimes find myself in because I happen to have an opinion or point that is slightly contrary to edutwitter groupthink. It began when I responded to someone’s point about deadlines. He had said*:
I’m a grant writer. My papers are due at a certain time & there is no forgiveness.
I more or less agreed and replied:
I used to be a proposal writer. Not getting it right meant no new business.
What followed was a quick back and forth that was less of a discussion of education theory and more of two people commiserating about professional experience and work situations. I jokingly ended with “Oh God, I’m getting flashbacks” and went back to working on my draft. Some time later, I opened Twitter and was greeted with a ton of notifications. Someone else had decided to respond and they were tweets that quite a number of people thought were profound because even at least two days later, they were being retweeted. Here are a few:
if Thomas Edison were denied redo’s, would we still be in the dark?
We’re asking tchrs 2 really teach, not play, “gotcha,” then blame students when they fail.
“One and done,” rarely leads to effective instruction. Descrptv fdbk and revision needed.
It’s hw we learn to get things right & on time. Giving F’s doesn’t build self-discipline
I responded to such profound words with my usual brand of sarcasm:
It’s not worth arguing with tweets meant to display a person’s sense of superiority.
Gee, my experience as an editor never taught that feedback was important. Thanks.
What this confirmed was that the person I’d been talking to had been doing what so many Connected Educators™ love to do, which is edusplain. Building off the definition provided at the beginning of this post, here is a definition:
Edusplain: to delight in condescending, platitude-filled explanations delivered with rock-solid confidence of rightness and certainty that he/she is right because of self-professed expertise based on years of experience or number of followers on social media.
Now, if you look at my tweets, I am coming off as a big baby, and it was noted as much in the conversation:
Tom, it seems I’ve offended you in some way, and sarcasm is your response. ‘Apologies.
And I honestly find that tweet funny because of the way it tries to downplay my voice simply because I’m being snarky and suggests that I may be offended in some way. In other words, the response re: my sarcasm was an attempt to claim some sort of moral high ground. I also find it funny because that person doesn’t seem to know the difference between offended and annoyed, because I was simply the latter. And I personally think my tone was wholly appropriate because what was going ton wasn’t a conversation so much as it was someone tweeting bullshit at me for the sake of offering “advice” or “feedback” or “clarification” for the purpose of getting retweets and followers. Is the point that descriptive feedback is necessary if students are going to learn and grow a good point? Of course it is–anyone with half a brain will tell you that. But look at the way those tweets were phrased. They are the Twitter equivalent of a bumper sticker–you can drop them into a number of online conversations and the same sheep will retweet them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have had a solid conversation on the topic of feedback and retrying after failure, but the minute anyone starts edusplaining, I push back with snark because I frankly am tired of it and I want it to be called out more. Edusplaining is what makes people like me who are “just teachers” feel increasingly irrelevant or make us not want to participate in whatever Connected Educator™ revolution that Connected Educators™ think they have launched. The edusplaining drowns out the actual substance of education’s social media presence and needs to stop. Stop tweeting nonsense, stop putting quotes in pictures, and stop being son condescending to anyone who might have a slightly different take on the world just because you have “decades of experience.” Use the greatest communication tool of our time to actually communicate for once, not to continue to pump your ego.
*Names have been withheld to protect the innocent and not give credit to the guilty.