Apologies. I was wrong.
Last year, the shortlist for the TES award for teacher bloggers was drawn up by a teacher blogger. The final shortlist was pretty impressive, including blogs like Evidence into Practice and Cazzypotsblog that had really moved on the debate. So for that reason I encouraged a lot of people to nominate great blogs for the award this year. I should have been suspicious when, instead of asking for a link to people’s blogs, they asked for people to cut and paste individual posts, which would suggest that they were going to be evaluated by somebody unfamiliar with the concept of blogging.
And now I know why. According to her Twitter feed the shortlister this year is Natasha Devon. Not a teacher. Not a blogger. But she is somebody who has:
- advocated for crank therapies like NLP and mental health fads;
- responded to that post about her advocacy of crank therapies by implying that the author was a sexist troll;
- claimed that anyone on social media who challenges the idea that Michael Gove’s policies caused mental illness is a “Gove-o-phile” attacking her;
- responded to the suggestion from a teacher blogger that making posters and role-playing might not be good teaching with this:
That last tweet did get deleted after teachers on social media started telling her that this was beyond the pale.
None of this behaviour is particularly surprising. Since teachers started being active on social media we have been routinely dismissed by “experts” with official recognition, a media presence, and no evidence. When people have this sort of platform they rarely want to engage in actual debate. Let’s face it, the last time the charity sector provided us with high profile “expert” on children with an honour and government backing it was Camilla Batmanghelidjh. But it is a shame that TES, who, in the days before Twitter, provided the best social media forums for teacher,s have decided that this is a suitable person to identify the best in teacher blogging.
So I am sorry that I wasted the time of people by recommending they nominate for the TES award for teacher blogger. Thanks for doing so, but obviously, I now want nothing to do with it. Whoever wins now will have done so only by winning over somebody who has no interest in the kind of debate that teacher bloggers, at their best, contribute.
Update 26/3/2016: After the post, this tweet appeared:
I suppose this is an improvement on what the situation appeared to be, although one wonders how familiar with teacher blogging the teacher judge would be if they need a non-teacher to help them during the Easter holidays. However, this still means some really good bloggers could miss the shortlist because they were only evaluated by somebody whose main experience of teacher bloggers seems to be based around insulting them for, you know, blogging.
Natasha Devon has also replied in the form of a blogpost on a newly minted blog. She seems to have thought that Labour Teachers was a group organising a political campaign – rather than a blog giving a platform to individual teachers – and that she thought her TES column was a blog. It’s almost as if she is completely unfamiliar with the education blogosphere.