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How Educational Progressives are still trying to silence those who disagree Part 3

May 20, 2018

In my previous post about silencing educational traditionalists online I discussed the use of bogus legal threats to intimidate. Another common method of trying to silence people, is the use of abuse. I’ve blogged before about the Progressive Trolls who try to drive traditionalists off of social media. The last attempt to form a twitter mob against me, (somebody found an old post satirising the idea that the badly behaved all have SEN) resulted in the following :

I’ve talked a lot about “school shaming” where schools, particularly those with more traditionalists approaches, are subjected to campaigns of online intimidation and abuse, negative media coverage and vexatious FOI requests.

As well as bogus legal threats, online abuse and school shaming campaigns, I’ve also began to notice the use of spurious complaints to people’s schools and universities for expressing the wrong opinions. Unfortunately, most of the victims of such behaviour cannot go on the record for fear of the consequences. Bloggers who are generally uncontroversial have been told that they must stop blogging. At least one anonymous blogger was forced to quit their job after their identity was revealed to their employer. One teacher told me their headteacher had received letters of complaint, that were initially acted on, just for recommending my blog on Twitter.

A few people were able to talk about their experiences publicly.

Tom Bennett, behaviour expert and researchED supremo told me:

When I was asked by the DfE to lead behaviour reviews, that’s when the Angry Brigade really got their engines started. Now I consider it a quiet day if someone isn’t firing off bitter, poorly spelled tweets that mysteriously include the handles of the DfE, Secretaries I’d State etc. I’ve even had venues I’m holding researchED in harassed because lonely keyboard warriors feel compelled to make their internal struggles with joy a public issue. It’s largely fine- when you become part of a lively and public discourse, you expect pushback. But the tactic of ‘I’ll tell your boss’ is rather weird if the reason is simply ‘I disagree with you.’ That’s simply an attempt to shut down debate through intimidation. Happily I’m self employed, so my boss is unlikely to sack me. My favourite incident was when someone emailed researchED (which is me) and told them to sack me.

Greg Ashman, blogger, author and PhD student described what happened following a blogpost:

…a number of Australian academics complained to my university. As I understand it, the complaint was about me making fun of the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) conference. Specifically, I joked about how some of the paper titles sounded silly. The complaint was thrown out because I didn’t claim to be representing my university when making these comments and because I am allowed to have opinions about education.

Bodil Isaksen, blogged about education and worked at Michaela school which is known for its traditionalist leanings. When she moved to working for Unlocked Graduates, a charity who work with prison officers, she described what she was told by one of her new employers:

My boss told me that she got “warnings” not to employ me in my new role when I updated my Twitter with my new role. Along the lines of “do you know who you’ve just employed?” with links to lots of Michaela stuff. As it happened, my boss was on Twitter so understood the venom, and was herself at a highly criticised new school so she just found it funny and ignored it. Also, I had been at Unlocked for a while before I put it on Twitter. But I dread to think the effect it could have had if that wasn’t the case.

In this blogpost, a school governor who had praised some traditionalist bloggers described how one person familiar with things he’d said on Twitter, chose to:

… call the school office and headteacher on a weekly basis for two months, still threatening to call in the police and go to the media because of my supposedly disgraceful behaviour. Worst of all, this person knew the effect of they were doing, making references to wanting the principal to prioritise their complaint over improving the life chances of 350 “poor” children, and threatening to “drag the school through the mud”. This was not a dignified phone call asking for the headteacher to make up their own mind and be trusted to take appropriate action. This was the offline equivalent of endless Twitter hectoring. Ironically, our principal did also consider going to the police to make it stop.

I’ve no reason to think that there are more than a handful of people doing this sort of thing. There may be some overlap in those whose actions are described above, or some overlap with people whose actions were described in my other blogposts on silencing traditionalists. But what is clear is that, if you are unlucky, expressing educational traditionalist views can be enough in itself to lead to retaliation.

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14 comments

  1. Maybe I’ve got a thicker skin than most–and admittedly I’m self-employed and don’t do social media of any sort–but I’m always delighted when I draw the sort of playground taunts like the tweets above. They discredit everything they say–any impartial observer couldn’t help but be on your side.


    • I think people differ a lot in how willing they are to put up with the abuse. A lot of edutwitter traditionalists do become less active over time, particularly women who seem to get some of the worst abuse.


      • The danger of losing your job or damaging your career is the key bit Tom.


        • I seriously doubt that being on the receiving end of any of the tweets Andrew displayed above would cost anyone their job! I know teachers who are pretty paranoid about possible reprecussions if they step over some imaginary line, but the other side of the coin is that heads and governors are terrified of being sued for wrongful dismissal.


          • No old Andrew losing his job. Or teachingnewbie. That was the point Andrew was making that I think you missed.


          • You must know different teachers from me Tom. Most of the ones I know are terrified of being asked by the Principal to account for any minor transgression.

            I one had a meeting with my principal and my department head. As part of that something a bit stupid I had done would come up. Oddly my head was petrified of the whole thing, and he hadn’t even done anything wrong!

            The mere thought of having to defend an unpopular opinion is one of the reason progressive ideas that people know won’t work keep floating up in staff meetings. I tend to oppose them, but I’m almost always the only one who will vocalize my opposition.


  2. Oh dear oh dear you poor person. Being criticised for your views. As if you don’t give as good as you get!


    • Have you even read the post?


      • David is proving the point. Reading what people on the wrong side actually say gets in the way. If you’re not progressive you are wrong by default.

        Abuse and threats — that’s just “being criticised”, provided you are on the correct side of the issue.


      • As I have discovered, this particular person never bothers to read anything written by people with whom he might disagree.


    • It’s the legal letter which was being criticized.


  3. I have had lots of venom directed at me. I’m not a teacher. I used to be a member of a popular site for parents in Australia, called Essential Kids. It’s not twitter but a place for parents to discuss school issues etc. When I would respond to some posts regarding pedagogy or curriculum ie be critical of the approach taken, I was invariably attacked. I was sworn at, told I was right wing, told I had no ability to think critically, told I had no right to comment as I wasn’t a teacher, told I had no right to comment as I hadn’t studied education at university, told I was stupid etc. If I used evidence to back up my claims would become even more vicious.

    Moderators of the site eventually told me that I wasn’t welcome, and all my future posts would be moderated, because I was provoking people and pushing an ideology!. The odd thing was that I was merely discussing things from another perspective and always polite but obviously many people (largely teachers actually) felt very threatened. They could say whatever they wanted and be very provocative, aggressive and nasty and the moderators did next to nothing to stop them. I eventually decided to quit that space, despite a few teachers & parents who seemed to actually be interested or agreeing with much of what I had to say. They were interested in debate but the progressives fanatics weren’t. It just became really awful and stressful and I certainly felt victimised.


  4. Here is what one person said in my defence after much ridiculing – not just in this post, but many others. etc. Also, be aware that many of the ruder posts directed towards me were eventually taken down by moderators but only after I complained about them. Burro said in response to one of the many rude posts:

    This post is smug, rude, sanctimonious, condescending and baiting.

    All the kowtowing, fawning circle jerking on this thread has me gagging and eye rolling. I can barely read it. In fact I’m not going to read the whole thing.

    I can’t believe that more posters (and mods) aren’t perturbed by the baiting and nastiness shown to grumpy?

    Which is a shame, because I am interested to listen to grumpys arguments. And while I see some of these concerns and issues debated in the media and in the UK, it’s not the kind of conversation thats easy to have at my work place. I know that some of the parents at the school I work at have concerns about pedagogy. What a shame that their concerns would be ignored and shut down here also.

    It’s ridiculous to suggest this debate isn’t welcome or facilitated on a parenting forum or that parents are getting above themselves by reading and critiquing.

    The argument that grumpy couldn’t be informed and make a valid counter argument because she’s not a ‘professional’ is Amusingly antiquated and ‘ 20th C’ and the antithesis of life long learning and critical thinking – which we supposedly foster between the hours of 9-3.

    Read more: http://www.essentialkids.com.au/forums/index.php?/topic/1185821-should-naplan-test-content-that-hasnt-been-taught-yet/page__st__250#ixzz5G5woIwNQ
    Follow us: @essentialbaby on Twitter | EssentialBabyAU on Facebook


  5. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.



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