Passion fatigue

There’s been a lot of chatter lately among some edubloggers about their feeling that educators who blog have formed a community akin to an invitation-only cocktail party, that some “elites” deliberately exclude or insult newcomers, and that there should be rules to follow when blogging, Twittering, or participating in the various social networks that support educators as they experiment with new tech tools. I’m not even going to try to link to examples of this, it’s just fuel on the fire.

I’m no expert here, but my spidey sense tells me there’s something else going on. I think it’s “passion fatigue.”

Educators who felt their professional selves rekindled by technology, especially Web 2.0 technology jumped into communicating this passion to others. As time goes on, though, it gets harder to maintain that heightened sense of mission, especially when you just don’t see anything changing around you. Or worse, you start to see the enormity of turning the massive institution called school in any direction, much less the one you want. You start to wonder if your life’s work is all just so much spitting into the wind.

It’s so much easier to pick on little things, point fingers, proclaim rules, and jump into fights you wouldn’t tolerate in real life. It’s the virtual equivalent of library shushing. I’ve done it, I admit it, I’ve poked my nose in where it doesn’t belong and made comments that I shouldn’t have. Maybe I shouldn’t even say this, since someone is going to think that I’m complaining about them. But honestly, I’m not. Blog however you want. Comment however you want. Twitter, don’t Twitter, really, I’m not your mother.

I aspire to be both optimistic and realistic, do my best, and not give in to trivialities. Some days that happens. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” I hope that spirit carries me forward.


11 Replies to “Passion fatigue”

  1. Sylvia- I feel you! and I think you should Trademark that phrase. I’ve never felt as burnt out as I have in the last couple weeks. Between the frustration of trying to help reform my school, getting my voice out there about reforming the system, add-on projects that come with going over and beyond job “requirements,” and a dedication to students, my fatigue is at an all-time high. However, I still have this underlying desire which I’m sure will push me through this down phase. Most of the educators that I know in a similar position all have that desire and will be back to fight after a little break.

    For now, I’m carrying an umbrella with me because it seems like I’m downwind a lot lately.

  2. Nice post! I have been wondering about this emerging phenomena myself and wondered if it wasn’t an ownership issue.

    Many individuals who have just purchased a new car will park three times as far from the entrance as they used to in order to protect their new baby. With such a fast influx of educators a similar situation is bound to happen.

    We value our ideas, after all we have put so much into them. We also value our words for the same reason – we are far too emotionally attached to them and at times find it hard not to react in a protective manner when someone disagrees. I know that I went through this – even before I started blogging. Now, I generally have no problem when people disagree – I look forward to the challenge it brings as it forces me to re-evaluate my thinking and see if I am on target. If I still feel my idea is solid I can then go about restating or work on establishing its validity with more evidence or support. It is actually a good thing to be challenged – though at times it can be exhausting.

    There are those who will challenge merely in an attempt to be “righter” than you – my advice: smile and just ignore it, let your readers/followers filter it out of the flow.

    – Greg

  3. Our passions are so personal, that it may be difficult for some to separate critique of the object of our passions with critique of ourselves. It’s a shame, but even the fires of passion can be smothered by the weight of enough wet blankets.
    Keep the faith.

  4. At times like this, I try to remember that teaching is not about myself, but about my students. Funny though, I need to keep that in mind when my passion isn’t fatigued too!

  5. I have been impressed, that despite being a relative outsider, my contributions have been openly received. It has been relatively easy to join discussions at the highest level. Some of the great thinkers of our time, often with publication lists longer than your arm, have taken the time to write detailed and considered replies to me, a relatibe noob.

  6. @everybody – I think everyone’s comments touch on the fact that the perception of an edublogger community as being any one thing has got to be mistaken. I find it a very open and welcoming community, as Tony says. There are relatively few flamewars and the name calling is pretty mild.

    I really feel it’s a tempest in a teapot – a reflection of frustration with the system, not agitation at people trying to change the system. Challenging times call for challenging thinking, even at the price of some slight discomfort.

  7. I know exactly what you are referring to but I have to say I think the intent was to be personally cruel. Frustration with the system? Fine, walk away from tools that are of no use to you and be done with it.
    ‘Harangue -A long pompous speech, especially one delivered before a gathering.’
    I will not be at NECC, Educon. I am a teacher, not a techleader groupie.
    But the fact is- there are cyberbullies walking amonst the leadership.
    And we know who they are now.

  8. Sylvia,

    Although I follow, and am followed by, many “edubloggers” my network also includes business people, librarians, and others who share my interest in a variety of topics, including art and creative writing.

    As I move from K-12 teaching to the private sector, I don’t anticipate severing ties with my educator friends. The things we explore, the resources we share, are not strictly limited to a classroom. Learning is not the sole province of formal education. Isn’t what 21st century theorists are trying to tell us?

    Twitter interaction renews my enthusiasm rather than extinguishing it.

    And, as Linda says, a bully is a bully no matter the venue: f2f or in cyber space. There are no excuses for publically ridiculing others. Ever.


  9. Sylvia,
    This is a great post and totally sums up how a lot of us are feeling right now – and agree with Diane that ‘Twitter interaction renews my enthusiasm”. It is not always easy to find f2f colleagues who share your enthusiasm for something you are passionate about and wanting to expound on, but here in the blogosphere there is profound joy in sharing – and the passion is rekindled frequently. Let’s keep planting our seeds.

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