Blogging Etiquette 101

Update #2: As a point of clarification, I have no issue whatsoever with the fact that Chris Wehner referred to me by my first name.  What I take issue with is that he did not provide a link to my post.  Unfortunately, he has still not provided a link, though one of his readers did include it in a comment.  This is the same individual who deleted my site from his blogroll after I moved mine to a page on the navigation menu.

Update: You can read Chris Wehner’s comment below and his response on his own blog here.  He says he never received my comment (it is possible), though according to my computer it is still cued up and awaiting moderation.  The comment below as well as the response are incredibly confusing.  I fail to see what it has to do with my comments about American Exceptionalism and the steps being taken by the Texas Board of Education to revise the curriculum.  Still no link to the post in question.

I welcome responses to my posts from other bloggers and, for the most part, I usually learn a great deal.  There is something strange, however, about Chris Wehner’s response to my recent post on American Exceptionalism.  Strangely, he refers to me by using my first name, but fails to provide a link to the post in question.  I left a comment on his post early this morning, but as of 7pm it has yet to be approved.  Worse yet, Wehner completely misses the point of my post.

To many educators teaching something that is positive about American history is considered to be intellectually dishonest. Today Kevin suggest that to teach our history in any way that is “positive” is to teach in a vacuum free of “critical thinking.” Whatever. His idea of “critical thinking” is hard to imagine, but I can guess. To teach the American Revolution intellectually and to challenge students students to “think critically” Kevin probably thinks that the emphasis would be on Women, Blacks, and Indians. Are they to be left out? Of course not, but the spirit and heart of the Revolution was unique and dare I say… um, “Exceptional.” No few women, blacks or  Indians participated (voting, taking part), true, but the fact that so many white males were at a time when Monarchies and Aristocracies dominated the globe, it was radical, revolutionary and “Exceptional.” I contend that Kevin and others simply cannot crawl out of that “Presentism: box they exist in.

I think this is a wonderful example of reading what you will into the text.  The point I made was a simple one.  I am not interested in presenting American history as divinely inspired/exceptional or as a cause of all that is wrong with the world.  In short, my job as a teacher is not to impose my own moral/intellectual view on my students.  I want my students to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.  To be honest, I have no idea how to respond to this since it has almost nothing to do with the point I was trying to make.  I can only imagine how Chris ended up with this specific interpretation.

Most importantly, it seems dishonest, not to mention cowardly, to respond to and criticize another blogger and not provide a link so as the reader can judge for herself.

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8 thoughts on “Blogging Etiquette 101

  1. Andrea Jones

    …Did he just insinuate in that paragraph that women, African-Americans, and Native Americans took part in the Revolution by *voting*? African-American men got suffrage in 1870, women in general in 1920, but prior to 1924 only Native Americans who either gave up their tribal affiliation or *applied* for citizenship as if they were immigrants had suffrage.

    His whole post reads to me like the voice of someone who didn’t actually pay much attention beyond 8th grad history. Other countries have had struggles similar to ours, and there are more voices than those of wealthy white men to tell the American story.

    Reply
  2. Kevin Levin Post author

    Andrea,

    Like I said, I don’t know what he is getting at. I want to move beyond the narrow confines that tend to dominate our popular discussion of how best to discuss American history in the classroom. On one side is American Exceptionalism and on the other is a tendency to see only the negative or shameful moments in American history. The more interesting story is always much more complex and it moral lessons are rarely understood in absolutes.

    Reply
  3. Bob Pollock

    Kevin,

    You’re just making it all too complicated.

    The Pilgrims left England so they could be good Christians. They got along so well with the Indians that we all now have Thanksgiving. The colonists got tired of paying high taxes, so they threw the tea overboard. George Washington cut down the cherry tree. Everything would have been utopia if it hadn’t been for those darn big government advocates like Lincoln. The country’s greatest hero has to be Robert E. Lee, after all he was a perfect gentleman.

    How am I doing so far? ;)

    Seriously, you made the point in your post that you are only trying to help your students think critically and make their own assessments of America’s greatness. Having read your blog for some time now, I feel quite sure that your students are getting plenty of information to make an informed judgement. I’m also quite sure that America’s reputation can withstand the scrutiny. There is no reason that we should not be able to acknowledge America’s failures and still be very proud Americans. After all, there is plenty to be proud of.

    Reply
  4. Chris

    Levin, Kevin? Are you serious. You’re going to say I should have addressed you by your last name, LOL!!! “Blogging Etiquette 101″, your arrogance is dripping. You are soooo much smarter than little ole me. I should have known better than to question you, I know!! If you don’t know what my point is, fine, can’t help you. Don’t really care too frankly. Ciao.

    Reply
  5. J. L. Bell

    I doubt Chris Wehner intended to suggest that women and non-white men voted during the Revolution, though that’s the literal reading of “No few women, blacks or Indians participated…” I think that was probably meant to be, “No, few women…,” or, “No or few women…” There are other typos that indicate writing in haste, such as “Today Kevin suggest that…”

    Wehner didn’t serve his readers well by leaving out a link, but he obviously expects most of those readers to know who “Kevin” is. Or even “you know who”! So now you’re known on a one-name basis, like Elvis.

    (Costello, that is.)

    Reply
  6. TF Smith

    Mr. Wehner thinks that giving high school students the introductory chapters of “A People’s History of the US” and “A Patriot’s History of the US” to read and discuss is noteworthy pedagogy…that about sums it up, I think.

    Best,

    Reply
  7. Kevin Levin Post author

    Chris,

    You can call me whatever you want, but to not provide a link to the post that you are referring to is intellectually dishonest. That is the issue along with the fact that you ramble on and on about something that I am not even advocating. I have no problem with you questioning me and I don’t believe that I am smarter than you. Calm down and chill out.

    J.L.,

    I think you are probably right.

    TF,

    I have no problem using Howard Zinn in the classroom. In fact, I just finished analyzing a chapter from _A People’s History_. Next it is on to Paul Johnson.

    http://cwmemory.com/2009/01/10/how-i-use-a-peoples-history-of-the-united-states/

    Reply
  8. Richard

    “On one side is American Exceptionalism and on the other is a tendency to see only the negative or shameful moments in American history. The more interesting story is always much more complex and it moral lessons are rarely understood in absolutes.”

    That is a statement that sums up my thoughts very well. The older I get and the more I learn it is apparent to me that nobody really has the moral ground. All men, white, black, indian: they all cheat, lie, and kill when they come to power. Just depends on what moment in time you look at. My wife thinks I am crazy but I wonder what the world would look like if women had been the rulers. Would we have these wars generation after generation?

    I am impressed with our founding fathers. Regardless of what one thinks about them as individuals they did try to create a government of checks and balances to fight the evil nature of man.

    Reply

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