Agreeing to Disagree

I think my favorite thing about twitter is that I’ve found a group of people that I can engage in deep conversation with and that will push my thinking.

Today several of us engaged in a bit of debate over the idea of a “dress code” for teachers.  How should we look?  Fully dressed up all the time (business suits and dresses)?  More business casual?  Jeans and a polo shirt?

There were a variety of opinions, and strong ones at that, throughout the conversation.  What I enjoyed is that at the end of the debate we can all parted amicably and said to each other, “Great chat!  Thanks for that and see you around.”

I wish I could better teach the art of “agreeing to disagree” when it comes to my students.  So many times they engage in arguments and debates where they wind up not talking to each other at the end of it because they couldn’t come to an agreement.  They both believe they are “right” and that if at the end of the conversation the other person hasn’t come to the same conclusion then they should walk away mad, angry, and/or hurt.

Debating in casual conversation is a lost art.  This notion that we must “both believe the same thing at the end of the conversation” abounds in my students and it shouldn’t.  If I say something that makes you think, then great!  And if I didn’t, so be it.

The issue about how teachers should dress certainly wasn’t resolved at the end of our talk on twitter.  And though some might doubt you can have a good discussion while trying to keep it to 140 character statements, I would argue the opposite.  There’s no room for any BS this way.  You need to be clear, concise, and get your point across effectively.

My students call a debate held on twitter a “twitterbate”.  When I posted this term the other day, people as far away as Singapore and Finland re-tweeted it to their networks.  Debating on twitter?  Could it be a new art form?  I certainly found it engaging today!

If you’re interested in the notion itself of teacher professional dress, here are some links tweeted in regards to today’s discussion:


About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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One Response to Agreeing to Disagree

  1. I think you hit the nail right on the head. The 140 character limit forces you to really focus on what you are trying to say. Therefore conversations tens to be point to point rather than sounding like a flowery and impassioned monologue. That makes the convos great,but wha I think is the real power of twitter is that no one person can dominate the conversation. No matter what, every one can contribute as an equal. Your thoughts don’t need to be silent as another person finishes theirs. Then once all of the ideas are out there they get judged based upon their accuracy or their usefulness. I mocked twiter for a LOOONG time before I really got to know how to use it. Now I could kick myself for not taking the time to master it earlier. I have learned so much and met so many people who I respect and enjoy learning and debating with. 🙂

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