I'm trying to think through some parts of the basic operation-manual for Fireside Learning, the part of the manual that has to do with discussion guidelines and the "tone" of the network. My idea as I created the network was to set up an environment that is conducive to conversation, much like sitting around a fireside can create that atmosphere. A group discussion about this would be useful, I believe.
I'm thinking of certain guidelines that we'd generally be glad to go by--manners, perhaps--and trying to sort through how we best join together in conversation, with a sense of propriety and sensitivity that network participants find comfortable.
We certainly don't want to get too fussy; we absolutely are not promoting the view that participants have to agree with each other about the topics being discussed. We want discourse, and want to express and listen to a wide variety of views.
Would you say that's true?
So here is my characterization of the atmosphere I think is right--I'll put my view out there and then people can react and help to define and refine network expectations ("guidelines," "standards," "tone") for collegial conversation. These things have a starting point--and often evolve as we go on.
I'm thinking that being at Fireside Learning is like sitting by the hearth in someone's living room, or around a woodstove in a cabin. It might be later on in the evening so not a lot of kids are up, but some might be, and some will possibly walk through and hear the conversation. Maybe we're in a ski lodge; elders sit with us, a toddler is in someone's arms, a few young teens are hanging out playing a board game, older teens are joining into the conversation now and then.
Or how about this: we're all working in a mixed-age group on a construction site, such as building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Some people are obviously the leaders in particular activities. Some have a lot of know-how and past experience, others are trying to figure out how to use a handsaw. And younger people are both watching and joining in. The fire is only metaphorical in this case; it's in our spirits, it's in the energy of what we're building.
In all these settings, we'd want to be good listeners and learners, we'd want to stay somewhat on topic (with ramblings being ok now and then, along with refocusing on the main point). Am I right that in general we want to give out a lot of encouragement and support--whenever we can--and when we disagree, we want to do so respectfully?
Is this about right so far?
What am I leaving out, or putting in that doesn't belong as part of the picture?
Right now, would you be comfortable with your extended family stepping into Fireside Learning?
Is that a fair and useful standard to start with?
One reason I'm asking is because right now I have to keep my students off the network because of a poem that was posted. I can imagine other things coming up that would create the same limitation: graphic violence for instance. (My students don't see Fireside a lot, but do come through as they're looking at network design and maintenance. And I know of some parents who have signed on with their young adult child, both with the same user name.)
The poem that's up has a purpose for being there, and is high-quality writing. But does that make it appropriate? How do we judge what's appropriate?
Well, maybe this is enough to begin the conversation.
What's your view about the standards and tone we should use here? What are we after?
Maybe we can eventually get it down to a few sentences that serve as guidelines.
Anyone want to try? Let's begin.