Many years ago, when I was studying ‘A’ Level Art, my teacher asked us to write an essay about a well known modern artist. I’m not entirely sure why, but I decided to play a trick on my teacher. I created some ‘modern art’ of my own, claimed that my images were by Kandinsky, and based my entire essay on my spoof works of art. I got away with my trick, my essay earned me a good mark, and I thought myself ever so clever. In my defence, I was an immature seventeen-year-old, and I had the air of arrogance that is so often a fault of the young. I was sure that I knew best about everything, and I felt that fooling my teacher would show how much cleverer I was than him. How foolish I was to take pleasure in tricking someone who I should have treated with respect. How glad I am that I have grown up and out of such unpleasant games.
A few months ago, I came across what I reckoned was a spoof blog. I left a comment on the blog asking why the names quoted in the blog were not genuine, and shortly afterwards whoever wrote the blog set it to ‘private’. There are other blogs that I stumble across, which I sense are written with the intent to ‘spoof’. But I have no desire to call them out, because although they make me feel a little bit annoyed, mainly they just make me feel sad. As educators, one of our key roles is to model the behaviour we want to see from our children. That is why I feel we should use respectful and supportive language, and a polite and sensitive tone, when we communicate (even if anonymously) online. Not because I can’t handle it if someone is rude to me (truly, I don’t care) but because we are giving a public impression of what teachers are like. And the idea that teachers would spend their time writing pieces designed to upset, annoy or ridicule their fellow teachers? Well, if you ask me, that kind of behaviour is best left to seventeen-year-old kids.