As I walked out of my office, for the last time on the final day of my first ever Ofsted inspection as a Head, I made some off the cuff gag to the governors who were waiting. This prompted the Lead Inspector to slap me on the back and say ‘I can’t believe he’s still smiling, he’s had a tough old two days, and he’s still smiling.’
I had. And I was.
Not because I am some super-being. (Although the 360-degree survey I conducted on myself shows that I’m darn close). Not because I didn’t get the gravity of the situation. (We’d just been placed in RI, the lowest outcome for the school in a hundred years, so, yes, I had realised that the week’s newsletter was going to require some careful editing.) Not because I was drunk. (That was to happen 91 minutes later.)
The reason why I was still making cheap gags at such a time was because…why not?
I enjoy being alive. It’s fun. If I can’t smile, what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some irritating buffoon who feels the need to make light of misery. I wouldn’t for example, on hearing the news that…
[Blank space representing all the inappropriate jokes in relation to serious incidents that my editor has deemed it necessary to delete even though I claimed that my readers were intelligent people and could understand the difference between me actually being offensive and me making a point. But, my editor argued, you’ll put it out on twitter and they’re mostly idiots.]
…of course I wouldn’t say that! That would just be highly insensitive and extremely offensive.
But even though I don’t make light of serious issues, I see no problem in tackling serious issues with a lightness of touch. This enables hard messages to be communicated clearly but sensitively. It allows points of view to be heard. It provides freedom of speech without either side feeling battered by an over-bearing and one-sided narrative.
In times of united struggle, being able to end on a light note, doesn’t so much provide others with hope, (that would be an incredibly pretentious claim) but it can help put things in perspective. It can allow others to take a breath and relax before fighting on.
Twitter could do with gaining a lightness of touch. I don’t want this to sound like the hundred other blogs out there that say: Why is everyone so mean? Why can’t we all just get on? I don’t want everyone to get on. I want there to be discourse and conversation. I want passionate teachers to spar with each other on the educational battlefield.
What I don’t want, and what is beginning to be boring, is the joyless and heavy bombardment of over-serious and self-worthy laments. These tedious battles that end up nowhere. I mean, come on people: WAR! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
I don’t care what side you’re on. I don’t care what your beliefs are. Just remember: this is Twitter! It’s next to meaningless. Nobody cares, that much, what you do in your classroom. What you say might be interesting but then again, it might not be. If you put it out there be prepared for others to ignore it or knock it down. Don’t object. Get over it. If they’re ‘abusing’ you, report them or block them. But don’t tell everyone you’ve blocked them whilst tweeting a ton of screenshots of something they said fifteen years ago before twitter was invented as if we care about your justification: just do it.
If people in the real world have an issue with your beliefs, go and work somewhere else. You’ll be happier. If you can’t and if the real world is being unfair and unjust, tell us about it and we will all rally round and support you. Because that’s why we all signed up to this. We want to make friends, learn something, and support the education community. Oh, and we want to occasionally tweet funny things that happened to us or share the occasional gif of a cat ice skating or whatever.
So, please, Twitter: lighten up!