If you can’t say something nice…

This week in Applying Educational Technology To Practice (CEP 812), we were asked to examine and expand our “information diets.” Specifically, the instructions were to write about how three new additions to my information diet have pushed my thinking in a new way. After a great deal of exploring, I eventually settled on websites for the Conservative Teachers of America, the Heartland Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.

image by kjburgam (CC licensed non-commercial, share-alike)

image by kjburgam (CC licensed non-commercial, share-alike)

From the start, I found a great deal of reinforcement for why I tend to avoid traveling in conservative circles on the web. From a story about parents upset at their children’s middle school for having them watch a video of celebrities pledging to support the President and asking students to do the same to a story highlighting the injustice of a man arrested for disruption of a school board meeting addressing questions about the Common Core in Maryland, I encountered what I can best describe as a general sense of outrage in full bloom. Moreover, the tone taken in many of the articles I read was one of snide sarcasm. I often found myself unwilling to even consider the writers’ viewpoints strictly based on the snarky attitude. But, for the sake of the assignment, I had to soldier on.

At this point, I asked myself if conservatives reading from my “information staples” might experience similar feelings. So I went to some of my standard sources for news such as the New York Times, New Republic magazine and National Public Radio. I understand some people might think that as a lifelong liberal* I would have difficulty recognizing bias in the media I frequent. But, even if that were the case, I felt as though I should at least be able to identify snark, be it from the left or from the right.

Selecting education stories from each outlet (NYT, TNR, NPR), I looked for sarcastic writing or even writing expressing feelings of indignation toward those holding differing opinions. But I did not find any. Now, I certainly do not claim this to be a scientific examination of the evidence. I recognize it as nothing more than my experience during this particular assignment. And, to be fair, I was able to locate some liberal websites that included snarky comments in their reporting on education topics (e.g., Jezebel). They just were not websites that I would consider as staples in my information diet (which, upon reflection, is likely due to the level of snark present in them.) But, to address the ultimate question of the assignment, I would have to say that varying my info diet has, at the very least, brought to the forefront of my consciousness a heightened awareness of snarky attitudes in the media. I am certain that my snark detection system will stay on high-alert for the foreseeable future.  And that’s not a bad thing.

* Actually, to be completely honest, I did vote for Nixon in 1968. But, in my defense, I was only 10 at the time, and it was in a schoolroom version of the national election that was taking place that year. Plus, I did so because in fifth grade I thought elections were about being on the winning side as opposed to standing up for what one truly believed in.

References

Baker, K. J. M. (2013, September 26). Right-wingers rail against Wisconsin’s ‘masturbation ed policy’. Jezebel.com. Retrieved from http://jezebel.com/right-wingers-rail-against-wisconsins-masturbation-ed-1203610406

Caplan-Bricker, N. (2013, September 5). New evidence: There is no science education crisis. The New Republic. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114608/stem-funding-dwarfs-humanities-only-one-crisis

Demby, G. (2013, October 10). Recent findings question state support of black colleges.  National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/10/10/230986039/judge-says-maryland-promoted-separate-but-equal-colleges

Howerton, J. (2013, September 20). ‘Is this America?’: Parent ‘manhandled’, arrested while speaking out against common core at public forum [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/20/is-this-america-parent-manhandled-arrested-while-speaking-out-against-common-core-at-public-forum/

Seelye, K. & Bidgood, J. (2013, October 9). Boston school-bus drivers return to work amid uncertainty. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/us/boston-school-bus-drivers-return-to-work-amid-uncertainty.html?ref=education&_r=1&

snark. 2013. Urbandictionary.com. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=snark

Urbanski, D. (2013, September 29). ‘A little 1940s Germany’: Parents livid after middle schoolers watch video of celebrities who ‘pledge’ support for Obama — and ask viewers to do likewise [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/29/a-little-1940s-germany-parents-livid-after-middle-schoolers-watch-video-of-celebrities-who-pledge-support-for-obama-and-ask-viewers-to-do-likewise/

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One thought on “If you can’t say something nice…

  1. Kevin,

    I found myself trying to find feeds and people of the conservative side as well. Ironically, each time I found an interesting feed, I figured out it was still a liberal site. To really tip the scale, I decided to follow Rick Snyder on Twitter to try and understand his beliefs and how his decisions are for the best for children.

    When I was reading about your own information diet before this week, a question popped into my head. Do you think that you don’t see the “snarky comments” because you agree with the views of the authors more than that of the conservative articles?

    Great post!

    ~Blair

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