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How Educational Progressives are still trying to silence those who disagree

May 9, 2017

No doubt what follows will be interpreted as an “attack” on the individuals I quote here. However,this post refers only to the public behaviour of influential individuals and I have removed one name at the request of the individual involved. I am bringing attention to this because a lot of education bloggers read this blog, and I think it’s fair to let them know what they can expect if they dare challenge progressives on social media. No doubt there are those who will point out that not all progressives behave this way, so I’ll acknowledge that now.

I’ve become used to being able to speak freely on social media. I think many other traditionalists have as well. It is easy to forget that many still have to hide their identities. It is easy to forget that if you are new to social media and you challenge the progressive line, (particularly if you are a primary teacher, a woman, or new to teaching), progressives will try to silence you.

There was an example of this, just this weekend.  A (newish) blogger, called Teaching Newbie, had visited a school with a No Excuses discipline system and had been amazed at how well it worked. In a blog post she wrote:

On Twitter, I have encountered noted educationalists such as Sue Cowley and Debra Kidd, at every opportunity sneering at and denigrating the no excuses, high expectations approach espoused by [the school]. And all the while, the most disadvantaged children in the country continue to suffer. Just stop, people, stop! There is a better way. Swallow your pride and open your eyes to the evidence that is right before you, if only you would see it. Discipline works. No excuses works. A focus on knowledge works. Explicit teaching works. Drills and tests work. And no, it does not kill off creativity or oppress children. Quite the opposite.

Rhetorical, and dramatic, but a fair enough comment. Sue Cowley wrote a blogpost that did little more than ridicule Nick Gibb for talking about “no excuses methods” and she has made her opposition to “no excuses” clear on Twitter:

Debra Kidd had been far ruder, writing a post on “no excuses” entitled “Entirely Without Compassion“.

So these high profile ex-teachers have their opinions; Teaching Newbie had a different opinion. People should be allowed to express their disagreement, wouldn’t you say?

Well apparently not, according to the writer of this comment claiming to be Sue Cowley (and this tweet would indicate it was her).

This is odd. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that it’s hard to libel somebody if what you say about them is demonstrably true, and does nothing to damage their reputation. Disagreeing with progressives is not actually punishable by law. Teaching Newbie was considerate enough to remove the names, but not the post.

This was not enough for Progressive edu-Twitter. Lots of people stepped in to attack Teaching Newbie there. I won’t repeat anything from “the Progressive Trolls“, those accounts that are largely dedicated to abusing traditionalists on twitter, but as you can imagine, they were offensive.

As well as the trolls, at least one progressive, a PGCE tutor whose name I have blanked out in red., supported the idea that disagreeing with named progressives about views they had expressed in public was some kind of libel.

 

 

When warning of “danger” did not silence Teaching Newbie, this particular progressive found another way to silence Teaching Newbie. They searched through her blog for what she had written about life at the school where she works as an LSA and found comments that they would not have made about a named school:

 

Then they claimed Teaching Newbie could be identified:

Although it is unlikely that Teaching Newbie has been identified, this was too much for her to risk, and she deleted her Twitter account and blog. She confirmed by email that it was this implied threat to out her to her employers that had caused her to do so.

I share this as a warning. If you are blogging about teaching make sure you cannot be identified if you are describing what actually happens in your school. If you are challenging any prominent progressives, expect them to try and intimidate you and expect other progressives to support them, no matter how unreasonable their behaviour is. People will claim that disagreeing with progressives on social media, or describing what actually happens in schools, is unprofessional and that action could be taken against you. Be careful. Progressives did not gain the influence they have over education through open debate, but by making it professionally difficult to challenge them. Social media has opened up the debate, and they do not like it. You may think your little blog or a few tweets won’t bother anybody, but if they see a chance to silence you, they will take it.

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84 comments

  1. You are clutching at straws here. None of these tweets are threatening and are actually offering Newbie is is not an NQT as she explains in her blog, but a LSA. Why on earth would someone interested in what has caused a new entrant to the profession to form such views of her colleagues and the pupils whom she refers to in such derogatory terms, not read further? After all bloggers expect to be read and one supposes challenged.? Otherwise what is the point? Also what exact evidence do you have that the PGCE tutor is a progressive? How do you feel about a well know blogger with over thirteen thousand followers then orchestrating a campaign to inform the tutor employer? This is an extremely one sided account of what actually happened. All I can say is that fair minded people with a smallish number of followers will not be frightened by the Twitter big hitters and will seek recourse to legal procedures if necessary


    • The blogger didn’t delete her account and close down her blog because of helpful advice, but because somebody went through her blog looking for things her employer might not like and then told her that she could be identified.

      I know that the PGCE tutor who did this is progressive as I have debated with her before. She also expressed her own disapproval of “no excuses” discipline during the discussion.


    • Thank you. It is great to find out that there ARE teachers and schools in the UK actually doing this :”Discipline works. No excuses works. A focus on knowledge works. Explicit teaching works. Drills and tests work. And no, it does not kill off creativity or oppress children. Quite the opposite.” As a visitor to schools, both private and public , deprived, average and wealthy in the US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Turkey (where I have trained teachers in how to implement Philosophy for children) I have been advocating this for 30 years. I thought I was a lone voice! It is so obvious when you see a lot of schools, that the biggest difference across all cultures and in all socio-economic environments is – discipline. Where there is strict discipline the children have a chance to learn, even if the teachers are not brilliant. Where there is no discipline even brilliant teachers struggle. It is that simple! Of course good teachers also make a difference, but there is no one teaching methodology (or pedagogy) that is ‘good’. It depends upon the individual teacher.


  2. I agree. I recently politely disagreed with Sue Cowley and she made an accusation of misogyny.


  3. So you make a judgement on one debate? What would you say if you knew this “progessive” tutor is also a Latin, Greek and Grammar enthusiast? That she is a strong believer in excellent behaviour, good manners and clear rules? Orderly classrooms, punctuality, accountability. You are in my opinion and as so often Just keen perhaps to have the last word? You will never push me to the limit of being rude or abusive but you do make me want to ask you to look at your own behaviour here and that of some of your colleagues. It is most unsavoury and you are again in my opinion trying to turn this into a prog v agument in order to win a point. You are are defending a blogger New to teaching who was publicly describing her pupils and colleagues in derogatory and damning terms. This is the crux of the matter and that another school, by retweeting her entire blogs history had actually not done her any favours


    • You are defending the practice of doxxing someone, and going after their career, because of a disagreement. This is something which I have never seen a traditionalist tweeter or blogger do to my knowledge. If they did, I would not be defending them on any platform as you are doing now.


      • I can assure you that no doxxing went on and no threat of it. There were enough incidents and locations described in the blog, even in the first shared post that very clearly exposed the writer. The incident in which she described her HT’s and SLT’s request for her to visit Michaela, the HT’s comments re Tom Bennett were just the start. These were highly likely to have been picked up by a member of staff at her school. Further posts gave further information which was giving a clearer and clearer indication of where she worked. Presumably she wanted her blog to be read and this could have been read by any of her colleagues who would quite easily have put two together. She also described her late entry to the profession and numerous details of her personal life, history and education.
        In my in opinion this argument is not about Newbie but it has happened because someone has had the temerity to stand up to some of the aggressive “traditionalist” big hitters on here who have turned Twitter from a good, supportive and informative place to be to an arena in which anyone who dares to challenge them into a place where many people no longer want to express their views as they are shouted down by the mob. Look at how David Didau dealt with me – was that a professional approach? No it was deliberately meant to intimidate. Some of his supporters leapt on the bandwagon asap. But the little people sometimes face down these tactics which is what I have done. That is at the heart of this matter.


        • This has everything to do with Teaching Newbie. I don’t buy the “oh here SLT/HT would have found out anyway” line, your in-depth knowledge is far greater than I have of any individual on twitter. Without digging deliberately, I don’t see how you could list it all so comprehensively.

          It is now the norm for progressives to attack, intimidate, threaten to dox and then the individuals involved and their supporters then try to cover it up with a revised version of events and try to deflect attention to those who support the individual targeted.

          I have no idea what David said to you. I have no intention, unlike the sycophants who have encouraged, instigated and supported the hounding of Teaching Newbie, on operating on double-standards.

          As for the rest – painting youself and the vicious, manipulative progressives who engaged in this attack as the victims and “little people” – you are being untruthful with yourself, to me or to both. It’s futile to continue a conversation when a basic level of honesty in the discussion can’t be observed.


          • I think your choice of language rather proves my point that professionalism has been sorely lacking here. No more to say. I am a great believer is stay calm when all around…


          • I’m not going to accept advice on professionalism from someone who can’t stop smearing others with accusations of one sort or another.


    • I had a feeling we’d be the villains.

      Yet, this is the second time so far this year a progressive has made threats of this sort when somebody dared challenge their opinion in a blog. Add to that the people whose employers have been contacted with complaints after they dared disagree with a progressive, or the Progressive Trolls who seem to be largely tolerated by other progressives no matter how abusive they are. It’s easy to try to claim faults on all sides. Pretty hard to find evidence, which is why we get vague insinuations like traditionalists are “most unsavoury” and complaints that anyone standing up to a bully is doing something wrong. While on the other side progressives dish it out apparently unaware that their victims might have feelings or that there is anything untoward about silencing those who disagree with you.


  4. Andrew – I never saw the original piece, so I can’t even begin to judge whether it was indeed ‘demonstrably true’, (presumably you could demonstrate for us that it was?) or whether it was indeed a piece of the naïve defamation which has become so easy with Twitter – which people have started to be prosecuted for, and which we have started to gravely warn our pupils about.
    Consequently, I can’t be sure as to the starting point which initiated Sue’s sense of offence and denial, but everything which I’ve read from the tweets on here – and linked elsewhere – could quite easily be seen as a reasonable and professional response to things which could be defamatory. Perhaps the need to seek the real identity of the blogger in order to warn them of the risks they were running sounds a bit dubious – though it would of course prove to the person that they couldn’t assume that anonymity could be a guaranteed protection on social media.
    I note that in one twitter thread, Michael Fordham seems to be taking the usually progressive role of being the ‘mushy’ one, by protesting for ‘professional’ compassionate niceness in the face of people who are trying to state a clear-cut, rational analysis of what is going on, which all in all seems a peculiar switch to the norm.
    The other week, you did protest about the hostility of a progressive referring to you as ‘passive aggressive’. Are we not seeing evidence of this here? Is it not possible that, for once, the ‘progressives’ had the intellectual upper-hand in this debate, and you are now trying to get some extra knives out, rather than admitting that they might have had a fair point?
    I can’t judge, as I never saw the blog, and I guess I now never will.


    • I quoted the “defamatory” material in full. If you didn’t even notice it, then I rest my case.


      • Ok – on balance – if that was the totality of it, I’m left wondering at the boundary between defamatory and simply enflamatory. I can see that Sue and Debra doubt ‘no excuses’ as an approach, but I can’t imagine personally using words such as ‘sneering’ and ‘denigrating’ to make a respectable argument against them. It seems too much like ad-hominen rhetoric to me as an approach. Is this a case where Traditionalists should have policed their own a little, as you’ve advocated recently, or is it the case that we all need to ‘man-up’ a bit and just accept the House of Commons ‘sneering’ nature of Edu-Twitter and blogging. In which case, where exactly do we draw the line? Simply at the point where we ourselves are personally offended? Some people were offended by what TN said, some by how people responded to what he/she said, and now some to the responses to the responses….


        • If “sneering” is so objectionable, why did you think I hadn’t included the objectionable bit?

          Regardless, it seems to be a matter of tone, not something anyone should be threatened with court action over.


          • I thought you hadn’t included it partly because it is no longer available (though you obviously get many posts by email), and partly because Sue was protesting about never having written about *said school*. Now in fact it seems that she has misunderstood the original post – since it doesn’t actually accuse her of sneering at and denigrating *said school* – it accuses her of doing that to the various principles ‘ESPOUSED’ by them. Consequently then, this is probably all about people taking unnecessary strong offence due to misreading, rather than them callously trying to bully someone into submission. I am happy to moderate my perspective here, but to my mind there is still an overblown mess left by the episode which has been magnified here.
            Consequently, I am left to observe again that the the accusation of ‘ad-hom’ which I often seen being wheeled-out by the arch-debaters on the Trad side (and which I have learned to be very careful to observe, if I don’t want to undermine my own arguments) has carelessly undermined some good arguments and led to an escalation of mud-slinging of – frankly – playground proportions. I might even try to capture as much of this as possible to use as PSHEE material to warn the ones we are trying to educate.


  5. i read the original post and thought teaching newbie was brave to post what she did. We need to engage with people who have different views. For those who say there was no threat, I would have felt threatened getting a reply on my feed like the one TN got and that’s before anything else referred to in this post. I hope this is a lesson to all of us to be tolerant and respectful of those who do not share the same views. TN, if you read this, well done for being brave. X


    • Teacher Newbie is indeed brave and I can only encourage this person to continue to fight the good fight. My own efforts has landed me more than once at the Board Office to be ‘re-educated’ or, more likely, to be cautioned, informed that I will be sent home for three-days without pay and certainly made to feel like I’m treading on thin-ice. But, guess what? On May 19th I will be receiving a Fearless Award at a local Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation ceremony for my willingness to resist the Progressive Movement. It looks like I’ve made a difference after all in the last 30 years. Who knew?!


  6. This is extraordinary. The people named by TN were, I presume, outspoken educationists with opinions that are printed in the press/blogs/tweets etc. Why would they be so surprised that someone challenged their views and used their names? TN used the word sneer in her blog post which I think is probably the perfect word for a lot of what I hear in reference to a certain knowledge-led school in London. It’s not as though this was printed in a major newspaper or on the evening news. What are these educationalists so worried about? Can’t they debate with her and deny what she has said by providing evidence of this? Why would they resort to such drastic action? How threatened and worried must the world of the progressive Ed. be that they must resort to such tactics to silence a dissenting voice. What a disgrace! Teachernewbie I had only just come across your blogs and they were terrific. I am very saddened to hear that you have been silenced because you simply disagree with some outspoken progressives. In the world of education. It seems we may be living under an authoritarian dictatorship that supports the orthodoxy. TN, I hope you will remerge from the ashes to start blogging again. All the best.


  7. My sympathies are entirely with Teaching Newby. It’s a joke to pretend that the lack of a teaching qualification somehow leaves her unfit to criticise what she observes in practice–taken to its logical extreme, this would mean that no one is allowed to criticise what teachers are taught in training.

    The only ‘teaching qualification’ I’ve ever had is a Regimental Signals Instructors award given after a two-week course–in fairness, our schools would be one hell of a lot more effective if teachers had similar training instead of having their heads pumped full of ideology. One great advantage of the military Methods of Instruction syllabus is that you can’t afford ‘discovery learning’ when you’re playing with dangerous toys, so great pains are taken to ensure that what has been taught has actually been learnt and retained. Still less do you expect soldiers to define their own ‘learning needs’.

    In the course of designing and delivering a Wave 3 literacy intervention that entailed direct instruction of phonological and morphological knowledge, I found that teachers and even a lot of LA advisers had no problem with straightforward didacticism (or with my lack of a teaching qualification). The real problem comes from the keepers of the progressive flame, who are found more commonly in positions of power and influence than teaching full-time in the classroom. A telling remark in a recent TES forum about whether headteachers should actually teach was made by a veteran of 30 years, who said that only two of the heads he had worked under could actually teach.


    • Anticipating the usual rant about how trads want to turn our kiddies into little automatons suitable only for cannon fodder, I suppose I should add that as someone who owes his operating philosophy of life more to JS Mill than Clausewitz, the British Army is the only large organisation I’ve ever been a part of that hasn’t offended my liberal sentiments. As mere corporal, I was given almost complete freedom to design deliver map reading and signals instruction on two week training camps. Our colonel merely told me the times and facilities that would be at my disposal and trusted me to do the rest. He knew that I understood the ‘training needs’ of our company far better than he did. Compare this with the insanely micromanaged activities of the average teacher! My son has subsequently served in the infantry, and until very recently (when ‘diversity’ became a part of military training), surprisingly little had changed.


  8. You have to deal with this garbage too?
    Pretty sad.


  9. Dear Teachwell. would you like to share specific examples of how I have smeared or accused anyone. Maybe you would like to quote exactly from my tweets on this matter. The legal adviser I showed them to found none and actually deemed them to be sound, professional advice to give to a new professional or indeed anyone on the pitfalls of social media. Perhaps you could specify exactly what you are referring to? I feel more than a touch of personal vitriol in your comments and as we have never before had any contact this somewhat intrigues me. I have to say that in 35 years in Education and as a highly respected leader in schools, ITE and working nationally as an MFL adviser I have never experienced this kind of language and these kind of vituperative comments. They don’t bother me but they do make me question your motives. I look forward to receiving the examples I am asking for.


  10. Dear Teachwell. I have just had a look at your blog; I imagine you want people to read it? Please don’t bother sending me the information I requested. It is obvious from your writings that we share few, if any values, on education or indeed humanity. I think my life will be much more fulfilling if I do not engage with you. I try to think the best of everyone – it is a marvellous benefit of getting older – but this time sadly I have failed.


    • And yet again we see the progressives actually don’t want any debate at all. Carmel just knows she is right and that’s that.


  11. 1. I don’t understand what it is you think progressives refuse to discuss? Would you like a list of the big name trads who refuse to discuss with me?
    2. I don’t understand how progressives silence all challenge?
    3. Do you want us to have an argument with teachwell about which insulting epithets she is allowed to use? Is that what it is?
    4. I can’t see in the several screen shots of Sue Cowley, where she tells anyone to be silent?
    5. I don’t understand why you have redacted the name of another tweeter in other screen shots, and left other names on view. Are you expecting people to debate seriously with anonymous or unknown tweeters, or do you want your colleagues to clock the names of the bad guys for future reference?


    • 1) Sue Cowley was the obvious answer here. But we could include anybody who claiims to be above the debate. As for people not debating with you, that is probably because you are frequently insulting which doesn’t really allow for debate.
      2) I didn’t say they did, although they cam pretty damn close when they controlled OFSTED.
      3) No ideas what this is about.
      4) She threatens to sue somebody who disagreed with her.
      5) The individual whose name I redacted a) claimed on Twitter that since this incident she was being threatened and b) hasn’t blocked me, so I was able to ask her if she wanted her name removed. So, in order to avoid a witch hunt, I gave her more consideration than she gave her target.


      • 1 I do not insult people. I am a caller of spades spades and am sometimes sarcastic, a fault in a teacher I know. If you would really like to debate, lots are up for it. Choose a specific topic and a hashtag and we can have a go. I would stipulate people sticking to 140 and not slinging million word links at each other. What is it exactly that progs refuse to discuss?
        2. Are you blaming all current teachers for what happened when progs dominated Ofsted? When was that?
        3 See the comments between Carmel and teachwell who boasts that she fights like the last Spartan… etc The Spartans did not win by throwing flowers at the Persians at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae.
        4 I read it that she was informing someone that they were in danger of being sued – not that they should not speak out, but that they should be careful how they speak out.
        5 I have no idea what this is about.


        • 1) A number of perfectly lovely people were called “phonics freaks” and “phonics pushers” and accused of having selfish motives simply because they tried to inform you of the facts about phonics.
          2) No. I was just answering your question.
          3) ?
          4) But it’s not true. You cannot be sued for disagreeing with Sue Cowley. What purpose does it serve to pretend otherwise, other than to intimidate?


        • The Spartans did not win at Thermopylae, they all died.


        • The Spartans did not win at Thermopylae, they all died. This does not invalidate your comment, but I find that if people get one thing wrong they get others wrong (and yes, I know that the Spartans held the Persians long enough for the Greek alliance to get their troops together etc) so in that way their work was successful – but they did not win the battle.


          • Ok. They did not fight by throwing flowers at the enemy. That was my point.


    • Pat – thank you for raising these important question. I wanted my name redacted as I was unsure what further purposes it might be used for. Andrew – If you felt so strongly that there might be a witch hunt against me perhaps it would have been better to avoid this blog? If you had the slightest concern of in any way inciting or being privy to inciting a witch hunt surely you could have been laying yourself and others open to criminal charges. I have spent much time in the last days seeking legal/police advice. All tweets I sent on the matter have been thoroughly checked and the overwhelming advice from legal advisers and the huge number of people who have been in touch with me to express support is that the tweets were simply warning Newbie and others retweeting her blog that she was laying herself open to professional misconduct. I do not person but has no wish for her to make herself vulnerable in this way at this stage in her career. I always operate under my own name and actually David Didau’s attempts to orchestrate a campaign to damage my reputation were much more sinister and much more indicative of a baying mob approach. If you really cannot see that you have overstepped the mark on this matter than there is no point discussing further. I refuse to descend into accusations or insults. 35 years in the profession have taught me that all things pass in time.


      • Sorry, are you defending the way you bullied somebody off of Twitter on the grounds that nothing you did was actually illegal?

        That’s kind of a low bar you’re setting for yourself there.


  12. I did not bully anyone off Twitter. If you continue to accuse me of bullying which is a highly serious accusation, without substantiated evidence I will contact my local police. I have no qualms about doing this. I have not used one word of abuse throughout this whole matter and have resisted all attempts to engage publicly on Twitter as I know that to respond publically only exacerbates the problem. At the start of this whole Sorry episode I left a comment on Newbie’s blog professionally suggesting that she may want to re think some of what she was saying as she may be putting herself in a vulnerable position vis a vis her employer. She actually thanked me for this. I said the same thing to her on Twitter when others were skewing the debate. She once again thanked me. So your accusations of bullying have no substance and I construe them as malicious in an attempt to damage me. As I say it is your choice if you truly and legally stand by your accusations. Otherwise I shall contact my local police shortly.


    • Wow, you can’t stop can you?

      I have listed in this blogpost the bullying behaviour that drove Teacher Newbie off of Twitter and to hide her blog. If you refuse to see anything wrong in what you’ve done, then that is your problem. The fact remains that you did do it.


      • You are right. It would be very easy to stop but I am not prepared to let you make public attacks without hard evidence. None of what you have shared is evidence of bullying. There are people like myself on Twitter, less than 2000 followers but who refuse to be swatted away by those who in my opinion feel they control the narrative. Produce as hard fact your evidence or retract your serious allegation.


        • The evidence is in this blogpost. I consider the behaviour described in this post to be bullying. It did indeed drive Teaching Newbie off of Twitter, and while I will not be proving that here, I could prove that if required.


  13. And now I’ve gone and written my own blog about this… https://steppingbackalittle.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/twitter-the-evolution-of-reasoning-and-a-right-old-classic-tragedy/


    • If you are going to have a go at people for not accepting excuses, you really need to come up with better excuses than the ones in that blog. Sue Cowley almost always claims to have been misrepresented when people challenge her and this is not the first time she’s made a bogus legal threat either. This was not a one-off mistake that people leapt on. And, as for the other person involved, it takes a certain amount of ill will to first encourage and endorse threats of legal action against somebody then look for something that could be used to make things worse for them at work. And it takes a complete lack of shame, after they’ve succesfully silenced their target, to claim they were just giving advice. None of this was okay, and blaming the people who pointed it out is really not fair. Traditionalist bloggers fought for years to get some freedom of speech in education. Of course we care when others are silenced.


      • How much of what you have just said there is “demonstrably true”? That Sue “almost always claims to have been misrepresented”, or that ‘the other person’ acted out of “ill will”? Does it not indeed take an equivalent “complete lack of shame” to suggest that my perspective is “really not fair”, when you’ve turned this episode involving individuals into a generalisation about all Progressives? All of us here are twisting subjective prejudices to tell the narrative that best suits us. I’ve no idea which of us is doing it the most or the least, but everything seems based on preferred interpretation.


        • I don’t really get how the ill will point can be denied. I suppose I haven’t demonstrated that Sue Cowley habitually claims to be misrepresented or that she’s made odd legal threats in the past, but then you haven’t demonstrated that she made an honest mistake. All I’m claiming is that your narrative ignores context.


          • I actually think that is a reasonable point Andrew – I’ve not lived the years of intense debate that you and Sue have, and so it does raise the possibility of a ‘tacit’ understanding of a situation which would be hard to prove objectively. I will add that in as an initial comment to my post. Is it not possible though that you’ve both become too close to the coal face to see how warped this whole kind of thing is getting, and its potential damage to both sides?


          • Are those that bully somebody off of social media and those who find that unacceptable equally damaging?


          • In such a logical construction, I would of course say the former. But we’re still in the realm of interpretation, based on the bigger picture “battleground”, which you are of course so dedicated to. I’m actually going to ponder that in a Part 2 blog post later today, rather than nip and tuck the first.


          • *the former is more damaging.


    • It’s incredibly cowardly and a complete overreaction to threaten to sue anyone in relation to this blog post and also to possibly sneakily attempt to expose the blogger to her employer.
      Someone was deliberately shut down and that is a big problem in a democracy.


  14. ” But we’re still in the realm of interpretation, based on the bigger picture “battleground”, which you are of course so dedicated to”

    We are in the realm of interpretation because *you* decided to interpret a long term consistent pattern of behaviour as a single mistake. Then having done so, used it to condemn those who objected to that behaviour.

    Please don’t make this about me.


    • My follow-up post Andrew. I do reference you and this post, but I genuinely don’t think it’s all about you – I think it’s about wider cultural dynamics in our social media interactions, and how we get ourselves hot under the collar and tied-up in knots.


  15. Andrew – It would seem that you have chosen not to publish the comment bellow. That is of course your choice as this is your blog. Your silence on this would seem to indicate that you cannot find any evidence that I bullied anyone off Twitter. Yet you seemed confident enough yesterday to make a serious public accusation and attack on my character that I had done so.
    What you are dressing up as fact and evidence are in opinion conjecture and perception that you are using to at best win an argument and at worst cause personal and professional harm. I very much look forward to seeing your hard and undisputed evidence or if not an unequivocal public retraction in this same forum that you made your accusation.
    Just in case you may have missed my comment – I copy it here
    I did not bully anyone off Twitter. If you continue to accuse me of bullying which is a highly serious accusation, without substantiated evidence I will contact my local police. I have no qualms about doing this. I have not used one word of abuse throughout this whole matter and have resisted all attempts to engage publicly on Twitter as I know that to respond publically only exacerbates the problem. At the start of this whole Sorry episode I left a comment on Newbie’s blog professionally suggesting that she may want to re think some of what she was saying as she may be putting herself in a vulnerable position vis a vis her employer. She actually thanked me for this. I said the same thing to her on Twitter when others were skewing the debate. She once again thanked me. So your accusations of bullying have no substance and I construe them as malicious in an attempt to damage me. As I say it is your choice if you truly and legally stand by your accusations. Otherwise I shall contact my local police shortly.


    • Your previous comment didn’t show up on the app. I have now seen it, approved it and replied to it.


  16. Then do so. I look,forward to seeing the evidence rooted in fact and not conjecture.


  17. With respect Andrew you said you had the evidence.so I am politely asking you to prove your allegations and serious accusation using as evidence anything that I wrote in that particular thread/associated threads. I note you say that you “consider” my words to constitute bullying Does this mean that you are working from opinion rather than fact? Please produce the evidence. That is all I am asking. An eminently reasonable request when I have been accused of a very serious misdemeanour


    • Hang on, I did just present the facts in this blog. If your complaint is that I described the behaviour as “bullying” after you claimed it wasn’t illegal, then I am only making explicit what the problem with your behaviour was, i.e.it was a really unpleasant and nasty way to treat somebody but not actually illegal. If you are trying to make out that by using the word “bullying” I was trying to make your behaviour seem *more* serious then you are taking it out of context.


  18. I think you are missing the point. You made a serious attack on my character in the context of a number of tweets that I sent in the context of the damage that can be done by the misuse of social media. Newbie thanked me for the advice I had given her on her blog and on Twitter. This was not about silencing a “traditional” which you seem to have turned this whole thing into. I will defend to the death freedom of speech but this does not mean freedom to defame or freedom to insult, Newbie had made some naive but nonetheless serious allegations in her blog which was then retweeted in its entirety by experienced professionals who really should have in my opinion made sure that the user were not exposing this potential teacher to a misconduct charge if she were to be identified. She gave a lot of personnel information and incidents in her blog that meant that a colleague could have identified her without too much effort.

    You by contrast have made a very and increasingly personal attack on me and accused me of bullying a term which has real meaning in terms of employer relations and the law. I am asking you to retract that term. That is all.


    • I have presented the facts of what you did.

      I used the word “bullied” only to clarify that I was making a less serious accusation than the one you seemed to be objecting to i.e. an accusation of having done something illegal.

      However, I do think that:

      a) claiming someone could be sued for defamation;
      b) telling the same person (after they refuse to back down) that you have information about them that could get them in trouble at work;
      c) (now) threatening another person with being reported to the police,

      is a pattern of behaviour that I would describe as “bullying”. I am not accusing you of anything other than what I have presented in the blogpost and what we have all now seen in the comments. I am not accusing you of anything criminal. I am not accusing you of anything related to your behaviour in the workplace.

      But, yes, this campaign to silence those who stand up to you on social media is wrong because it is bullying.


  19. Your responses are disingenuous.
    1. This is in fact the law
    2.Alerting someone to the fact that they are laying themselves open to action is responsible advice – I don’t think anyone mentioned informing her employer. The only person who mentioned speaking to anyone’s employer was David Didau when he proposed that people should contact mine.
    3.I am following professional advice here on dealing with on line attack. This is not bullying but my legal right to defend myself against unfounded allegations. We all know that the advice given to people in this situation is to inform the local police.


    • 1) No, it is not the law that disagreeing with Sue Cowley can get you sued for defamation.
      2) Nobody asked for your advice, and when you warn somebody you’ve already tried to silence one way, that you have found out infomration that could get them into trouble, then it will not be taken as advice but as a threat.
      3) Criticising your behaviour is not “online attack” and is blatantly not a matter for the police.


  20. 1 the Law of defamation is bigger than Sue Cowley
    2 This is in my opinion a malicious way of twisting my words to gain advantage
    3 You did not simply criticise my behaviour. With that I have no problem otherwise I would not use social media. You made an unfounded accusation that I had bullied someone. You have failed to produce fact or evidence but are simply relying on your perception.


    • 1) The actual law of defamation was irrelevant to the threat of litigation you were encouraging.
      2) I have presented your words, in context, in the post. You tried to silence her by encouraging one bogus threat, when that failed you found stuff that could be used against her, and told her you had it. It takes no malice to see the problem with that.
      3) You seem to be under the impression that the word “bullying” cannot describe behaviour. It can and usualy does. If you are denying any of the facts in my blog, please indicate which ones. If you are simply trying to appeal to the fact that when I say your behaviour is bullying, then that is dependent on my willingness to look at the behaviour and call it bullying, then that is trivially true, but completely irrelevant to your threat to contact the police.


  21. 1 Prove it
    2 Untrue – another false accusation against me
    3 I am denying every single fact in your blog that suggests in any way that I threatened Newbie or threatened to go to her employer. I have no idea who they even are.
    4 Prove your allegations with fact and evidence not conjecture. I have been extremely civilised throughout in all exchanges. When I see the facts and evidence then I will consider my next steps. My intention to go to the police should not worry you in least if you are able to provide factual evidence that I bullied Newbie of Twitter
    What is the main concern here? My only concern is that you retract your unfounded accusation. That you publicly deemed me a bully and that you are in my opinion using spurious evidence to back your claim. I am not interested in winning an argument or proving myself to be clever.


    • 1) I have, in this post.
      2) What is false?
      3) Can you identify a specific claim in the post that is not true?
      4) I am not worried about your threat to me. I just assume that it is another empty threat aimed to silence. I mention it only because it proves my point that you engage in this sort of bullying behaviour.

      Anyway, is this a point to this? As far as I can tell you are simply expressing outrage that anyone objected to your behaviour. I think we get that now. But the outrage, and the threat to contact the authorities, serves no useful purpose other than to demonstrate that you do behave in exactly the way described.


  22. No you haven’t
    Every single claim you make about me and your perceptions of my intentions in this blog – my tweets were all carefully and professionally worded.
    It is most certainly not an empty. After 35 years in the profession I do not make empty threats
    I am expressing outrage at only one thing. That you have made unfounded and untrue accusations about me in the public arena. Your version of truth seems to be rooted firmly in your perception whereas mine, like it or not, is rooted firmly in what I actually said. You are basing your public accusations on your perception of my motivation.
    To contact the police after being vilified on line is the advice that I have been given.. I have no qualms about following it. It is standard advice. Some of the big hitters on Twitter think they can get away with saying what they want about whom they want. I am not a big hitter but will not walk away from the atrocious attack to which I have subjected


  23. There is nothing I can see in what Carmel and / or Sue said in the Tweet screenshots that threatens anybody. They both say, because they know and are very experienced in the real world of what can happen in teaching that they think Newbie Teacher might be setting herself up for trouble with her employer. They do not try to silence her. They warn her of the difficulties she may be getting into. ‘Warn’ here does not mean “I’m warning you Sonny Jim!” It means “I have seen many falter on this path and I can see that you may need to watch your steps.” I was not online when this affair was live but I imagine other people were involved, arguing amongst themselves over Newbie’s head, making it complicated to say the least. I may be wrong on that.
    You seem to imagine, Andrew, that teachers who profess to hold progressive views about how children should be taught have as their main raison d’être to shut down anyone who does not agree with them. I think you are very wrong in this. You may have heard of, or come across people at powerful levels of government or the civil service or journalism who behave in this way, but it is not something many classroom teachers would know anything about. Shutting down debate is so antithetical to education, I pity anyone who thinks it necessary.
    I would also like to let you know that when you use words in your blogs such as ‘troll’ or ‘abuse’ about teachers, those words have very powerful meanings that imply doing something deliberately damaging to children or colleagues. No teacher wants to be known as an abuser or a troll. Those words are not equivalent to ‘twit’ or ‘stupid’. No teacher should be called a troll or an abuser as part of an argument or debate. If you really believe a teacher is a troll or an abuser, you need to contact the police.
    Any teacher who is personally accused of trying to silence debate, or of being a troll or abuser should fight it until the last breath in their body. Any group of teachers should do likewise.
    If you had difficulty being heard, years ago, I sympathise with you. But time does move on. If you want to debate, let it be known and see what happens. I would join in.
    I wish you luck.


  24. “There is nothing I can see in what Carmel and / or Sue said in the Tweet screenshots that threatens anybody.”

    It’s pretty unambiguous. She actually says that the opinion she objects to cannot be published and demands Teaching Newbie give her real name. On Twitter Carmel also claims the threat of litigation is genuine.

    “You seem to imagine, Andrew, that teachers who profess to hold progressive views about how children should be taught have as their main raison d’être to shut down anyone who does not agree with them.”

    Nobody I mentioned here is actually a teacher.

    “I would also like to let you know that when you use words in your blogs such as ‘troll’ or ‘abuse’ about teachers, those words have very powerful meanings that imply doing something deliberately damaging to children or colleagues. No teacher wants to be known as an abuser or a troll.”

    As somebody who has repeatedly had accusations of trolling and being insulting thrown at me, unfairly, I am the last person to use those words casually. However, I am also the last person to turn a blind eye, particularly as there now seen to be quite a gang of trolls who coordinate their abuse. You seem to be quite friendly with some of them, praising them for their wit and complaining when anyone stands up to them. If you are willing to see teachers abused on social media, that’s up to you. But nobody is obliged to put up with it. We seen to be in a bizarre situation where many progressives are outraged at mere disagreement, but completely blind to the poison spat about by those they agree with.


  25. Also, Andrew? How do you know who I communicate with on social media? You blocked me ages ago?


    • After you claimed nobody should be called a troll, I logged out of Twitter and searched for your name and the name of the most abusive trolls on education Twitter. Turns out you are a big fan of, well, pretty much all of them. But I guess, that’s not a surprise.


  26. Who are these trolls? You need to name names.


    • I really don’t. In fact I’m very keen not to give them more traffic. But they are becoming a problem: https://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/the-rise-of-the-progressive-trolls/


      • So we set up the Miasma of Troll, insinuate people are under attack all the time, but don’t say what sort of attack, and don’t say who’s doing it.
        Is that healthy? Is that what education is about?

        A troll is someone who persecutes others by, for example ridiculing a bereavement and LOLZing when they get really upset.
        Is that what you think I and my friends do?


        • I think your friends do, indeed, try to upset people. Calling people nazis and far right; attacking their school by name; comparing schools to concentration camps and gulags; tweeting attacks on them to their employer; implying they steal money from the school budget; claiming there is a problem with their subject knowledge; claiming they are expressing their opinions for commerical reasons; claiming that they are abusing their students, are all things your friends do. All aimed at specific individuals who have dared express the wrong opinion. If your defence is that this isn’t the nastiest sort of trolling there is, then that’s a pretty low bar you are setting for them.


  27. Wow, a fascinating example of the dangers in modern dialogue. My suggestions to avoid similar:
    Publish only anonymously and in open source platforms. Systems such as twitter and facebook are data surveillance businesses where your personal data can never be deleted.
    Create _separate_ private social media accounts of your true identity that you share _only_ with people that you have met in the “real” world.
    Never mix anonymous and private!
    Hope to see you join free and secure debates on diaspora, e.g.:
    https://diasp.eu/posts/5361879


    • Yes and no. You clearly are clearly leading an ultra-paranoid (and consequently to me suspicious) route through life, which perhaps many of us can’t be bothered with/require.
      I think that – if you’re going to use social media to vent fury and frustrations about your immediate employment in a school, then I would agree that using a pseudonym is a good idea. Even then, be aware that crumbs of information can build-up a trail which leads the right kinds of minds to figure-out who you are. Rather than go open-source etc. so as to confound ‘the feds’, perhaps ponder what you are trying to achieve and act like a mature and responsible human being.
      Personally I’ve only ever wanted to use my voice in edu-twitter/blogosphere circles to consider – seriously and reflectively – about wider issues & ideas, and the use of my own name keeps me either respectful and cautious about what I say, or, at the very least, responsible.


      • Concern about privacy, security and anonymity is equated with suspicion? Are you ignorant of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and the numerous NHS staff that pay a heavy personal price to reveal corruption?
        Snowden: “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
        You don’t need to disclose your identity to respectful, responsible and cautious with communication to others.


        • Thanks d, I realised after my response to you that I’d been rather more abrupt than I needed to be – and I certainly wasn’t respectful – and so I apologise for my tone. I suspect that it was because your highly hidden identity (‘d’) created a bit too much human distance, and I’m not sure that that always helps behaviour.
          I can see that this does link to privacy, but the main point was about active protection. I think that what I would suggest is that – yes, I’ve heard of Manning, Assange and Snowden, and at a facile level I guess I could say that I can never foresee myself attempting to do what they did, so why should I worry? However, I do get Snowden’s point – it’s not just about whether I personally feel I have something to hide. I guess my main thought would be though that – I’ve also heard of people who’ve died in horrific car accidents, but it’s not stopped me using the roads yet. How much to we alter our involvement in life so as to protect that way of life? I guess we all have different levels of risk that we’re able to tolerate.


  28. […] In my previous post I tried to take a distanced and reflective perspective on a recent online furore which started on a blog, escalated in a very messy way on Twitter, and has now found a home back on the blogosphere (partly here, but mainly on Scenes From The Battleground). […]


  29. […] the long-term goal that it should prevail as the dominant code. As Old Andrew commented to me on this blog: “Traditionalist bloggers fought for years to get some freedom of speech in […]


  30. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.


  31. […] How Educational Progressives are still trying to silence those who disagree […]


  32. […] behaviour in the U.K. where teacher bloggers who quite legitimately challenge the status quo find themselves threatened with legal action. Nobody is condoning the kinds of vicious personal attacks that we sometimes see on social media […]


  33. […] wrote here about the intimidating behaviour a new tweeter/blogger faced from an established education writer […]


  34. […] How Educational Progressives are still trying to silence those who disagree […]



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