Why I am writing in English from now on

geostationary orbit, CC-BY-SA Brandir, wikimedia commons

geostationary orbit, CC-BY-SA Brandir, wikimedia commons

Yes, I am writing this blog in English from now on. There are many reasons to do so, and only a few not to.

I am bored. For months I have been feeling that all I had been keen to discover, to discuss and to communicate in German and in Germany, I  discovered, discussed and communicated by now or at least for the next period. My own postings, my speeches, and particularly the discussions I am participating in are repeating themselves over and over again. Sometimes, I have the impression that these debates I am in are not making any substantial progress.
How come that so many discussions always move in a circle around the same questions or theses we have had years before? They are questions like „are smartphones in schools bad or good?“, „why should we promote computing in classrooms?“, „what is wrong with our education system?“, „how will the education system look like in 25 years?“, and many more. Even worse: the answers to these questions are nearly always the same as years ago. All in all there is much ado about nothing and no progress. This is the so called theoretical area. And then there is another area, where it is about practice. This area is mostly more or less strictly separated from the theoretical discussion. In this area the discussion is only about the lowest shop floor area, will say the operational level. The questions in this area are like „the 10 best apps to use in classrooms“, „the use of smartphones doesn’t make lessons worse“ … And the theoretical thinking is switched out like the light in the room, so there is no thinking possible about the theoretical implications of these specific practical issues.

Couldn’t we say: OK,  first we learned the problems – this was the analytical work. Then we discussed the future we want to live in – this was normative work. And now it is time to make the third step and deal with the strategic questions which are only about how to make this future happen? Why always start from scratch?
(NB: I am going to write about those strategic questions in another blog post, since I have realized earlier that often people think of strategy that it is not to be  discussed theoretically, but only a matter of will (and political power) to put something in practice, just the good intention getting something done.)

Maybe I am an impatient old woman. And certainly the debates have broadened within society getting more and more people and institutions involved, and it is understandable that they cannot make progress in relation to quality coincidentally. BUT: My life is short. I want to have fun. And therefore I want to, and I have to develop myself by achieving new levels or getting new challenges mastered. And I don’t like repetition that much.
A new challenge would be to work on the “strategic question”. But for this question you need to have discussion partners who have the same ideas, and the same assumptions and conceptions in relation to the first and second questions (the analytical and the normative question). Otherwise you would always be talking at cross purposes, getting the three questions mingled but not being aware of doing so.

Under these terms I want to start looking for new people and new ideas, and to seek them beyond Germany and beyond the German language. Since it’s no secret that a language (and the level of mastering this language) influence the way of thinking I am keen on learning how this will affect my blog and myself. As I am not the traveling type, I am looking forward to getting in touch with the world via internet and meeting people there. I already enjoy people coming by via airbnb, with which I have already had good experiences in 2014.

My English is not quite good at present, but I am confident that it will getting better by using it daily and by doing also a systematical training with the help of this guy .
And if it comes to the possible and suspected disadvantages:  I hope that everyone of my readers are able and willing to read my posts in English too, and needless to say, nobody is expected to answer in English. Of course I appreciate being corrected – language-wise as well as content-wise. And even if this means that I loose many of my followers: I will at least have practiced my English, right?

29 Gedanken zu „Why I am writing in English from now on

  1. Great shift 😉 At the moment, I’m bored as well. Not only because of the educational field, but also by other discussions. It seems to go on-and-on-and-on. Always the same routines. I am curious, whom you will find out there in the english speaking context. I don’t know, if it’s not a problem of the Western civilization…. Good luck!

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    • Good to see you with your statement to these issues, Anja 🙂 Hopefully your fears won’t come true …
      What I am observing is that – at least in Germany – most of the „serious“ social scientists are ignoring social media. Except you and Martin I know – who else of your/our colleagues are used to discussing their thinking regularly in sm?. And if you make them aware of this fact they always say: „Social media? OMG! The level of quality is far from acceptable!“ And that is what keeps them out and hinders them from upgrading the quality by their own contribution. A vicious circle I think.
      Do you know about a possibly similar occurence within the previous change of societal formation? Or would you say that the scholars back then were on the contrary just eager to use the new media (writing and publishing via letterpress)?
      Maybe there could be something found about this in Michael Gieseckes work „Die Entdeckung der kommunikativen Welt“ – I didn’t read it as yet under this aspect. but Giesecke himself doesn’t occur in the social media – what means from my perspective that he either has no continuous debate with colleagues at all OR at least not within the social media.

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      • Most of our society ignores social media and this whole web 2.0 thing. For me, the problem is not, that some academics don’t want to discuss their thinking in the public. The main problem is: They don’t want to work and live in any collaborative way, they are not used to. They write papers and travel to expensive conferences – it’s part of their compensation. And they think, this is enough sharing of their important thoughts.

        Because they are not used to work with modern technologies and workflows, they can’t imagine, what they are missing. They feel comfortable in their interpersonal monologues – who is really thinking in a transformative way? They fight for their old rights and that means: Who moves, has lost.

        In a way, it’s a corrupt system. And it goes on-and-on with younger people, who try to catch their train to the academic lifelong system. They are part of the game as well – you can’t escape while being part of it.

        Therefore, I don’t want to discuss those meta-topics anymore. It doesn’t make any sense. We have to work ONLY with those people, who are ready for a radical change. All others: Keep out of the way! I have tried in so many ways, to build bridges for the old system. But nothing happens. Absolutely nothing. No one wants to change or transform the system as long, as this will feed your family.

        And so, I feel like a translator, but only in one direction. The academics don’t want to hear anything from outside their system. Except when they can use it for free to implement some ideas into their structure as an integral part of their system. They rob it from the public to build something closed.

        As you can see: I’m not very optimistic to transform the system. We have to build a new one. And unfortunately, it has to be something better. But without public money, we have to think about a commercial way. And all those old-fashioned academics can stay in their routines and feel arrogance.

        Sorry, at the moment, I’m not ready for a strategic discussion. Especially in Germany, I only see fears. And some nerds, who discuss some routine net policies and technological issues. That’s it. Welcome to very old Europe!

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    • I’ve just accidentally heard a comment by a teacher attending an event of our media education department: „Why am I supposed to use social media in the classroom if I would be occupied only then with controling the ongoing abuse of media by the students for their own purposes?“
      So my first strategic thesis is: If the scholars don’t use it for their serious talk amongst themselves there would be no way for it to get into schools for the sake of teachers‘ and students‘ learning

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  2. new people, new ideas, new horizons – i really like your quote. and i share your anger and your feelings about going around in circles. sometimes, most times, it is helpful for me to change the point of view: isnt it time to focus on things that work?
    that does not mean, there is no need for improvement. helpful would be more money, more space, more professionals. school has changed. it is not just a Place where pupils are learning. It has become a place where a exponatial rising range of social and intercultural problems has to be solved and we forget that schools are quite good and sometimes really fantastic in that challenge with their ressources. i like to think about essentials. and i am wondering, why in out time there is no clear and easy answere about the essence of learning. thank you so much for sharing your feelings and inspiring thoughts.

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  3. Hi Lisa,

    I think that`s a great decision. I once published a post in English on my website and it reached more people in one day than all my other posts in a month. I`m thinking about switching to English as well, but as a teacher I`m very concerned that I make mistakes, because my English is not that good. On my blog, I always put a lot of emphasis on good writing and I fear that this would suffer if I write in English. On the other hand it`s a great learning experience and it makes writing articles exciting again.

    Oh and I can really understand that you`re bored by the way, the whole discussion about using computers in school is going. I really feel the same way. I`m thinking about this topic for about 8 years now and I don`t want to sound pretentious or so, but the public discussion – for me – is always a bit behind. The English speaking audience is so much bigger and you get in touch with people from very different backgrounds. That`s really exciting and broadens your view.

    So I`m with you – let`s communicate in English from now on! Thanks for sharing your point of view and let`s keep in touch!

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  4. @Anja you said: „For me, it’s clear. You can’t transform the system from within. Let’s build new ones….“
    I share your perspective of rotten systems. And I am also observing new forms of societal systems increasingly emerging everywhere – at the organizational but not the institutional level. But these upcoming forms are not yet able to take over the functions of the existing institutions. And certainly a simple replacement is not really going to work – but if it was we would have to fear the consequences because it would be a rather violent thing in several fields. So we don’t get out of building kind of „sympathetic“ interfaces within the existing institutions to let the new principles in, at least in order to make these consequences less disastrous.
    The older I get the more I prefer to work on these interfaces. Is that what you meant with „translation“ work?
    The circumstances for the old systems in order to maintain their usual business are getting worse. And in response to the deterioration we have two reactions, as you know: the „fundamentalist“ one and the „willing to change“ one. Both of them are represented by real people (executives). I think we should never stop talking to them, but as you said: In G. the „listening to translation“ skills are not very distinct.

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  5. Congratulations to your new gear of engagement. I think everybody who is a regular participant in the onlineworld in generel or in the social media world in specific, is used to the english language. At least to the point of understanding the context. Everyone else should find a way, any way, to get to that point. Society changes, rather people like it or not. Nobody has to lead every change, but in a longshot everybody should find a way to cope with the inevitable. In my opinion, english is one of these things.
    I perfectly understand your boredom, although it is overshadowed the most time by frustration. For fourteen years I am affiliated with the educationsystem in specific, and lives in general, of people with disabilitys and handycaps. During that time I got an education, an academic studies, I worked on different levels in different schools and am now a „Referendar“ (I don’t think „trainee“ translates it well). Everywhere I went there where the same patterns. Great, emphatic and inspiring views on education, lerning and children were presented and demanded. But the way they were presented and demanded were the total opposite of their content. So this pattern of opposition between the goals and the way to achive them repeats over and over, like nothing changed (except for the interfaces) in ages. It’s like the saying: „You can’t expect a different outcome, if your approach stays the same.“ So sympathise with your idea of a newstart. But neither in evolution nor in revolution germany has that many great examples. In that sence your step to reach out for the englisch speaking world to the internet seems quite rational. If I survive the „Referendariat“ (it even spells/sound very german and it isn’t getting better as a „Vorbereitungsdienst“), I’d enjoy to participate in building a new system and contribute my knowledge in specialeducation for the purpose of inclusion. (Not the joke our boss is selling.)
    Godspeed in your new chapter.

    (Note: My spelling might be horrible and my language far from pefrect, but I know that with this english, I learned by watching the Simpsons, surfing the internet and reading graphic novels, I’m far ahead of many (most?) my colleagues and costudents. Kind of sad and nice at the same time.)

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    • Yes, I am also sad about the widespread German lack of ability (and will) to read, listen and speak in English. This includes so many really significant consequences.

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  6. „Which facts should German pupils know about the Third Reich?“ – „Is there really no social sense in the social sciences?“ – I think, there are many questions waiting for you, Miss Rosa. Try to find answers in German! You will be overrushed what a Hercules-task waits for you! There´s nothing good outer you dood, Miss Rosa!

    Ich werde weiterhin Deutsch mit Ihnen sprechen und denke auch nicht, dass sich die Diskussionen im Kreise drehen oder alles ausdiskutiert ist.
    Sie vertreten eben die totalitäre Postmoderne, in der alles ausgegrenzt wird, was Ihnen nicht amerikanisch und oberflächlich genug ist. Sie sind affirmativ durch und durch. Das Gesellschaftsbild von Thatcher haben Sie ja schon; jetzt übernehmen Sie auch noch die Sprache.
    Ihre Aufgabe ist es nicht, einen geistreichen Aufsatz für den Englisch-Unterricht der 11. Klasse zu verfassen; mit so etwas vergnügt man sich als Jugendlicher; darf Ihnen hier meine Abhandlung über eine Parallele zwischen „Farm der Tiere“ und der Erkenntnislehre Berkeleys empfehlen. „Esse est percipi“, Sie wissen schon.

    Sie sollten überlegen, wie man die Gesellschaftsfächer vermittelt,und neue Konzepte entwickeln, und wenn Ihnen da nur postmoderner Müll einfällt, hilft eben auch kein Englisch.
    Gedankenarmut durch formale Aufrüstung zu kaschieren, funktioniert nicht. The theatre-sciences from the Frankfurt-Uni can sing a song from that!

    Der Gebrauch des Englischen ist noch pseudo-hipper als der Kult um die „Digitalisierung“. Sie leben nun mal in einer geistigen Welt, die über die Mittelstufe bzw. das Großraumbüro nicht hinauskommt.

    Was ich mich auch frage: Glauben Sie, irgendein Muttersprachler interessiert sich für Ihre Ausführungen? Soll das alles jetzt in Princeton oder Horvarth (oder wie das heißt) diskutiert werden?

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  7. Lieber Herr Ritter,
    die sog. Netiquette in Social Media legt nahe, Diskussionen themenzentriert zu führen und persönliche Invektiven zu unterlassen. Wenn der Diskurs hier Sie zu sehr echauffiert, dann sollten Sie ihn einfach meiden.

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  8. Warum, ist doch themenzentriert!

    Theodor Fontane sagte mal: „Wer mit 15 keine 1 in Englisch hat, hat kein Hirn; wer mit 30 immer noch Englisch spricht, hat kein Herz.“

    Und so isses doch auch.

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  9. Hello there,
    I am doing my PhD in Auckland, New Zealand, and I read the article about “ Die Zukunft des Lernens“ what caught my attention because of my PhD topic. I am originally from Austria and I would like to connect the English researchers and language with the German one. My topic is about future oriented teaching and learning in school, so if you have smart articles or interesting ideas for a cooperation, let me know. At the moment my research would just include Austria but I am open for a cooperation to the neighbour country as well 😉 My research would be about what are the constraints and limits in teaching PE. I focus on physical education out of the reason that this is my subject what I studied and the whole embodiment process is very interesting to me. So let me know if you are interested!

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    • Hi Romana,
      thank you for showing up here! I like your intention to connect German and English speaking researchers. For your topic „future oriented teaching and learning“ I recommend all materials and articles about Project Based Learning (PBL) – and the best of them are those connected to Personal Learning Network (PLN) or Learning 2.0 focusing issues. (Some of my postings in shift are related to this connection.) Further specification depends on your own thinking and values about what „future orented teaching and learning“ should look like. The OECD perspective you may read in the OECD book „Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century“ https://shiftingschool.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/lernen-von-anderen-anstatt-das-rad-neu-erfinden/ . I recommend it and think it is advanced – at least in its conception of what competencies are to be learned, what teacher skills are needed to achieve them, and how it could be put into practice in regard to the needed teacher activities.
      Unfortunately I am not an expert in physical education – though I am very interested in the subject – and I am not sure, if I’ve ever read an article about teaching physical education. I am sorry not to have anything to recommend in regard to this subject.

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    • Liebe Romana,

      als Kritik an dem Artikel „Zukunft des Lernens“ empfehle ich den Gegenartikel „Zerstörung des Allgemeinen?“, der in der hlz 5-6/ 2014. S. 48 ff. erschienen ist. Der Ansatz zerstört Sach- und Sinnstrukturen, ist pseudo-kritisch und treibt die SchülerInnen in die Arme halbkrimineller Internet-Konzerne. Dahinter steckt der alte Traum vom Intellektuellen-Pogrom und der großen Bücherverbrennung.

      Außerdem gibt der Artikel „Zukunft des Lernens“ den Weg frei für Holocaust-Leugnung und eine persönliche Sinnbildung über Schlachten- und Militärgeschichte.

      Wäre schön, wenn für diese Einwände noch Platz wäre in der PhD-Arbeit.

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  10. I’m just dropping a line to show you I’ve been here. Actually, a couple of lines.

    – Congrats on your impressively readable English. There are only tiny mistakes, and very rare at that. So, really well done.

    – I can understand your frustration. On the other hand, I’m sure you sympathize with us teachers who have to put up with our own kind of frustration … in various dimensions. Still, whereas teaching, too, brings with it the day-to-day joys of seeing progress in pupils‘ development, the look at the wider picture (from your point of view, teacher training, curriculum development) hardly offers lots of day-to-day joys, because education system is a very ponderous and solemn fellow, like a huge steamship – enormously big, difficult to navigate, and hardly anyone on board knows how to read a compass.

    Good luck with finding new contacts and gaining new insights – and don’t forget to share them, please.

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      • And I would say „the education system is“ fits it better. Both of them are possible of course. But the two forms have different meanings. Don’t you think so?

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    • Thanks a lot for your friendly feedback concerning my English – from you it means actually a lot to me 🙂
      Yes I understand your point quite well, and I will think about it. It might be that I am missing the daily pleasure to watch children and youth successfully learning. So I could be in a permanent mood which makes me easily being frustrated, and I might have not realized that mood.
      My problem is not only the (German) lack of understanding why and how new media should be put in education practice (although there is an upcoming improvement now – but driven by the economy not by the edu system itself). My main problem is made of two sides: The ongoing rejection of new media in classrooms is only one side. The other side are the many new media friends (regardless whether or not they are members of the edu system) who think they can have the implementation without a deeply system change. And even if they don’t think about how the change’s happening is related to their own thinking. To make it short: I am frustrated about how small my PLN actually gets when it comes to the intersection of new media fans and new learning fans, and about the understanding of practice and theory as a holistic thing.

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  11. Pingback: Besseres Lernen mit digitalen Medien oder: Den Arsch zum Mond recken | Bob Blume

  12. Als jemand, dessen englisch quite excellent ist, muss ich trotzdem diese Entscheidung bedauern:
    und zwar, weil es in der deutschen Bildungslandschaft (leider) immer noch viele Menschen gibt, deren Englisch nicht ausreicht, um diese Themen in dieser Fremdsprache zu behandlen.
    Darum finde ich extrem bedauerlich, dass Sie diese Entscheidung getroffen haben, ausschliesslich auf englisch zu schreiben, denn ich fände es gerade wichtig, genau diese Menschen zu erreichen, wenn sie sich schon dafür interessieren. Im Ausland gibt es unzählige Quellen, d.h. dort sind die Leute relativ gut versorgt.
    Ich weiss von zumindest zwei Personen, für die solche Blogs wie Ihrer wichtige Anregungen geben, aber deren Englischkenntnisse zu schlecht sind, um zu folgen.
    So – I pity it and would like to propose to find the texts here in German as well. I know that this is time consuming but could that be an option?


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    • Danke für den Hinweis. Ich werde versuchen, auch jeweils eine deutsche Fassung bereitzustellen. Es wundert mich jedoch zu hören, dass es Lehrer geben sollte, die kein Englisch können, aber meine Texte im Netz lesen wollen. How so? Die 30jährigen Lehrer und auch die meisten älteren Lehrer können alle Englisch zumindest verstehen, und die explizit nicht Englisch lesen wollenden ganz viel älteren Lehrer haben bisher nicht sehr positiv auf meine Texte reagiert.

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      • Ich denke, es gibt eine Unterschied zwischen „wirklich“ verstehen und mehr oder weniger oberflächlich lesen können… es ist durchaus, auch bei einem mittleren Wortschatz, für viele immer noch nicht gerade leicht, komplizierte Sachverhalte/ Texte so zu verstehen, wie es muttersprachlich geschieht.

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