Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I am a Hypocrite

Today I had one of those great thought moments that can only happen during deep professional and personal reflection.  George Couros, a principal I admire, did some thinking out-loud on my latest blog post, a follow up to another post on behavior.  Part of his comment is shown below:

I am going to challenge you a bit on this post, but not necessarily on its content. I noticed that you listed some stats on how many hits you have had, retweets, etc.. I also noticed that you listed that "Alfie Kohn" commented on it (like it was some kind of award that he did that). You have also written how you were disappointed that you did not get an edublog award: (http://mrspripp.blogspot.com/2010/12/im-loser.html)

With the listing of these stats (kind of like marks) and discussion of awards, are you somehow showing that you have a part of you driven by the same thing that you are saying we should take away from students in the classroom?

Just some food for thought. I think that your posting discussing the importance of intrinsic motivation and not extrinsic motivators is contradicted by use of the stats of your blog hits and retweets.

Is there room for both to drive us? I know I have a twitter counter on my own blog posts and love recognition.

Part of my response to George was this:

George, what a great comment that really made me think early this morning. I think your questions prove avery valid point for me; we as adults struggle for the same recognition as our students do. However, the reason why I listed those stats etc with this particular post was because it showed that somehow this particular post really struck something in people, which I had no idea it would. I never expect anyone to read my blog so the fact that that many people took the time to share or read shows that this a debate that many others are either thinking about or engaged in.

So all day I wondered; was I indeed a hypocrite (not that George implied it, I label myself that way)?  Had I published those statistics and name dropped because I too craved recognition and reward from my peers?  Could I possible be wanting the same thing that I despise so much in my own classroom?  The answer is not easy to come up with.  On one hand, I really do not seek out recognition but rather reflection, however, on the other hand, do I obsessively look at my blog counts to see if I matter?  Is that what it really comes down to?  

Perhaps when we look at our blog visits or comments received, we are really looking for some sort of validation that there are others like us out there.  That we are not alone in this educational ocean where the tide continuously shifts.  Perhaps, when a lot of people respond to a post we have found an island on which others seek refuge as well.  Perhaps, the need for recognition is so intrinsically ingrained in us that we can never truly escape it no matter how much we try.

I am not perfect, which thankfully no one has ever accused me of being.  I struggle publicly with many of my own teaching practices and choose to chronicle this struggle in order to give myself clarity from a distance.  I wish I could be 100% staunch anti-reward, but I am not, I still praise my students for great behavior, amazing work or just being all around fantastic kids.  Some would consider that a reward as well.  What I am opposed to, though, are the public reward ceremonies, the in-class recognition of only the best and brightest, rather than different categories where all children can be celebrated.  So perhaps I am a hypocrite, but at least I am a hypocrite who is willing to share their thoughts.


photomatt7 said...

If you're like me, you take pride in something well and want recognition. Can't tell you how often I write a blog or take a photo that I love only to find seemingly no one else does. There's a certain sting to that. I do crave the praise, too...

Ron Peck said...

Pernille, perhaps hypocrite is the wrong term. Human is a better description and we all are motivated in a variety of ways. Recognition is very powerful for many of us and I too am driven by it daily. Yet it is admirable for you to acknowledge your shortcomings and work to make yourself and your students better people from it. I for one admire you and your willingness to share every day. Thank you!

Lauren said...

I agree with the comment above by Ron Peck. You are human. You are not a hypocrite. I don't think you should call yourself that. That is not fair. Our thinking and sharing "aloud" on these blogs and on twitter and which ever social network we choose is just for that purpose to share and to learn and to grow. I am so grateful for people like you Pernille. You are open and honest and willing to admit and accept both positive and negative things about yourself. You are not a hypocrite. You are a life-long learner like the rest of us who are connected through a PLN or a blog or whatever. These digital connections we are all forming are yet another way we can come together to learn about being here as humans and living and growing together. It is so great that we can learn this way and challenge each other or commend each other for the things we are all learning.

Julie Cunningham said...

Just want to say, brava Pernille and bravo George. I think the most important part of this interaction is not the 'hypocrite' status, but the willingness on both sides to be transparently authentic.

Royan Lee said...

Seeking recognition and validation from an authentic audience is a million miles away from looking to win an award. I would be far less motivated to blog if I knew no one read it.

I've been watching my 8yo blog lately and noticed how incredibly excited she gets when receiving a comment. It propels her to write and create more. There would be no reason for her to blog otherwise.

I agree that the blogging awards are problematic, however, I don't deny that there's complexity in it. The thing about extrinsic vs. intrinsic awards is that the former are very enticing and sometimes validating, even though they shouldn't be. I am going through this very thing at my school where there is an embedded culture of extrinsic incentives for hard work and success. It's very hard to overturn this culture.

The thing most people don't realize about blogging is that it isn't essay writing. The best blogs are not vetted a million times before making it online. They are web-logs, remember. They're supposed to be a bit raw and very honest. That's really what differentiates blogs from other kinds of writing.

If we were in a rock band, can you imagine how incredible it would feel to know people were listening to your music? Imagine showing up for a concert and seeing that thousands had come to see you? I don't think that's the same as receiving a Grammy award.

Shannon Smith said...


Once again, you have shared a very thoughtful post. I enjoy reading your 'public struggle' and admire how honest you are in your blog. It is the conversation, the push and pull, that moves us forward in what we do. You are not a hypocrite and I know that George would never suggest you are. I think it is exciting that the comments in posts push back and extend our thinking. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs Ripp aka 4thGrdTeach said...

I always start out by saying thank you to all of the comments, but I think this is so important. I never expect people to comment so when anyone feels like adding their voice, the learning just expands.

I love being challenged to think even deeper about actions, words, and posts. I was really grateful for George for his comment as it did make me reflect obviously. If we cannot admit to our own flaws, we end up assuming perfection. I do think there is a tinge of hypocrisy though wen it comes to being anti-reward for me, because I wish for recognition just like everybody else. Where I think the more interesting debate lies though is where is the line drawn. When does being anti-reward become being anti every recognition. That is the question I continue to debate as I continue to ponder.


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