Bloggers like us are immersed in online professional development. The blogs we read are full of great ideas, better ways to see problems and different approaches to try out. When we think of blogging, we think of learning more about ourselves, our choices, and our conduct in our worlds.
We learn all this by writing our own blogs, commenting on others and quoting some of what we find provocative. We may not work in learning organizations, but our blogosphere is a place of continual learning. We are learning from what happens, what got said, and how others react. We resemble a "community of practice" that practices learning from happenstance.
Naturally, we are amazed when wanna-be bloggers consider the read/write potential while avoiding the professional development dimensions we treasure. Will Richardson, Tony Karrer and Patrick Higgins have each expressed this consternation recently. It's obvious to us that professional development is inherent to blogging. Why can't they see it? Why don't they get the power of this tool? How can something so useful and enticing appear hidden from view or personally useless?
Perhaps they cannot see the learning potential because we don't see their potential through their eyes. Maybe they won't get the power of blogging for their own professional development until we develop further ourselves. Perhaps the thing they are not learning gives us something to learn about them and our ways of relating to them.
Something is not working here that needs us to troubleshoot what's really going on. Here's a checklist of potential trouble spots to scout for whenever we're facing an avoidance of professional development.
- Are their plates already full from over-extending themselves as if they are always playing catch up ball and never getting a sense of accomplishment?
- Are they trapped inside a "nothing for me" martyrdom story that necessitates thankless heroics, inevitable sacrifices and perpetual suffering which defies awareness, growth or change?
- Are they serving a prison term, captivated by bureaucratic policies and accountability measures which punish deviance, exceptional efforts and creative escapes?
- Are they going through the motions of a meaningless chore, appearing like zombies who have lost their connection to their personally soulful purpose and unique talents?
- Are they conforming to group pressures, infected with the toxic culture, appearing as an offspring of a breeding ground for contempt, cynicism, mistrust and passivity?
- Are they misunderstood, starved for respect, or branded as traitors by the administration for empathizing with students, understanding their complaints, respecting their passions and valuing their non-conformity?
- Is our status as an outsider with our detached, insightful perspective being framed by them as a dangerous invader, spy or insensitive critic?
As we run through this list, we may learn what we were not seeing in others. Perhaps we'll appear more understanding and then get understood. Maybe we'll show more interest in them and get more interest from them in our outlooks. We might even come across as someone who's professional development includes learning from signs of a something not working.