Unintended Echo Chamber

From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurelfan/46006213/

There is often a great deal of discussion on the idea that Twitter can be an echo chamber and that we often seek out those who already have the same views we may have.  Although I disagree with that idea to some degree, I do believe that we have to be cognizant that we are reaching out to different ideas through social media.  If we only hear what we already believe in, how far does that stretch our learning?

Although this idea is somewhat new to me in the realm of social media, it is interesting that I am now starting to wonder if we have been continuously creating an echo chamber in the work that we do at schools.  For example, if we are proposing a new idea or initiative, do we ask people to join committees or groups that are vehemently opposed to these ideas, or simply have different viewpoints?  How often are we asking people to join us in a room that we know are opposed to our ideas, to help build them together?  We can easily dismiss these differing viewpoints as being “late-adopters” or something worse, but is there not value in bringing in these viewpoints?

As I have continued to think about this idea, would it not be better to have buy-in to our ideas moving forward from those that started off opposed?  Would that not bring clout to the rest of those staff in our buildings?  Would it not make our ideas better and have many feel like there is more ownership as we move forward?  Would it also not create a feeling that we are truly listening to all viewpoints, not just those that are most similar to ours?

I would have to admit, as an administrator, I have fallen in this trap unintentionally and probably because it may just seem easier to move forward.  As I continue in my own career though, I am continuously craving those opposing viewpoints to help myself move further in my own thinking.  I am more attracted to the blog posts that are saying something that challenges my thinking, not summarize it.  I think that the time it takes to have these tough conversations, no matter the direction, will save us time in the end.  If we have those who oppose it most at the beginning now becoming a part of the solution, I am thinking there would be a much better buy-in factor with a larger number or people.

Have we done this on purpose?  Probably not.  That being said, we must stand back and look at the way we have brought people (and who we have brought) together to move our schools forward.

Thoughts?

4 comments for “Unintended Echo Chamber

  1. March 20, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Paradoxically, as our school has focused deliberately on developing a more collaborative culture (as we say – a culture of “we”), we’re learning better how to disagree with respect, stretching each other’s thinking. It’s not been a simple process and disagreeing with one another can be challenging as we so pride ourselves on being a nice, warm community that embraces one another. Too often, we misinterpret disagreement as lack of respect. As we build trust, we gain confidence disagreeing with one another. I’ve found that it is in those settings in which we feel most comfortable disagreeing that we are most creative and productive. It takes patience building the relationships in which we can present differing perspectives freely. We’re finding the effort is among the most important culture building work we do.

  2. March 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I was so happy to wake up and find this post and Shira’s comment. We regularly meet and often have opposing view points. The challenge now is how do we build collaborative teams that are comfortable debating, discussing, revising, creating and implementing instructional strategies and learning endeavors that engage, challenge and facilitate learning for best effect. Any specific ideas, books or links that will promote this process?

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