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I have been away for ten days and I was startled to come back to what
appears to be some angry (too strong?) or perhaps defensive exchanges on
the list. I did check my mail periodically while I was gone and was
surprised to see how rapidly a misunderstanding has developed on the list.
I think now might be a good time for all of us who have been on the list
for a while to think about the list itself: what we like about it, what we
would like to change or improve or ways we could use this medium more
effectively. I suspect we might find that the list is fine but that we
need to process how we might use the list to better meet our needs. In
other words, we might need to revise how we use it and think about it---in
other words, we might need to change.
I would also like to hear what people think about the differences between
this type of communication and other more traditional communication
vehicles. What kinds of aprehensions, fears, joys, excitement and delight
do you experience with this type of communication? What kinds of solutions
can people offer to make misunderstandings happen less often and how can we
focus our listserv to help solve some of the problems we have in our
First some ground rules.
Let's be respectful of each other and try hard to avoid making value judgements.
If we disagree with a statement that someone posts, ask first for
clarification before making assumptions. This might be done off list for
some things, depending upon the nature of your disagreement.
Conduct a polite discussion, much like we would if we were in a
professional setting or discussion.
Acknowlege(sp?) each other and give honor to each other. We in art
education, have a tough life and we desperately need kind words to help
keep us, keeping on.
Ask each other questions like, Have you thought of this or have you
considered doing this?, for example. These indirect questions, are
sometimes easier to hear than a direct statement such as, "I disagree with
this or that".
Avoid personal attacks or spamming, rather consider ways we can be
supportive of each other. Harsh words once spoken are difficult to
overcome. They pierce the heart and I believe when harsh words are
received over the internet, they sting even more.
If it is true, that Art Education is in crisis, remember we need everyone
to help solve our problems. Let us honor and celebrate each other, rather
than being critical.
Finally, communication on a listserv is very different than other forms of
communication and remember to try very hard to be sensitive and thoughtful
when you respond to the group. May I suggest that you re-read your posts
before you send them and if you feel you are getting defensive or angry,
wait a day or two and re-read your post. If you still feel the same way
and your post is supportive and constructive, send it on.
In conclusion, I have sent angry posts to people in the past and for this I
am sorry. These kinds of things only make things worse instead of better.
If there is anything to forgive, let us forgive...and let us evaluate our
wonderful listserv with an eye toward making it more effective...I suspect
we haven't even begun to tap this fabulous resource.
Warmest regards to all and looking forward to hearing your ideas about the list.
Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art Education
Department of Art and Design
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas 78666
dg09 (university e-mail in San Marcos)
dianegregory (home e-mail in Austin)