Things I Know 24 of 365: We should say more

Only extremist messages can be fully conveyed in one sentence.

– Haim Harari, Physicist

The morning the 112th Congress convened, NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story on the evolution (or devolution) of the sound bite.

From 48 seconds in 1968 to the current standard of around 9 seconds, people of note are speaking to us in shorter and shorter spans.

When the issues we face are at their most complex, they are saying less.

We need them to say more.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to host #engchat, a weekly twitterchat concerning English education moderated by Meenoo Rami and Cindy Minnich.

I enjoyed the experience. It’s not often I get a dedicated hour of throwing questions up on twitter and watching thoughtful, creative English teachers from around the globe come up with answers.

At the same time, there were moments I felt the space confining or frustrating. This is not at all a criticism of #engchat – more a criticism of sound bites.

Several times, someone would share a creative lesson or project they’d completed with their students and I was intrigued.

“Where can I read more about it?” I asked.

With a few exceptions, teachers admitted their ideas lived in their heads or on their hard drives. I was bummed.

I want my colleagues to be writing about the lessons in their classrooms that work, sharing their reflections on practice and offering up suggestions for anyone who might wander down the same path after them.

I need more than a sound bite.

Sound bites infest my students’ writing from time to time as well.

Rather than pausing to present their reasoning in its entirety with examples and facts and evidence, they settle for the drive-by argument. Making the point overpowers the need to prove the point.

Tweets and sound bites are entrances to the conversations about the big ideas. They are not, as luck would have it, the actual big ideas.

If it takes you 9 seconds or 140 characters to prove your point, you should probably be examining either your proof or your point.


One thought on “Things I Know 24 of 365: We should say more

  1. I am always disappointed when I see that someone on Twitter doesn't have a blog, and I am equally disappointed when I read a blog with no Twitter feed. I agree that there is a time and a place for casual small talk (twitter) which can lead to deeper more sophisticated philosophical wanderings (Blogs). I so often find Twitter comes up short when I want to take something to another level, and so it is so nice to have my blog. Having said that often times even blogs can get bogged down in over analysis and posturing. That is when we need a face to face meeting at a bar/coffee shop or campfire to really get to the root of a subject.

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