On Pushback From ‘Pinterest Criticism’

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On Pushback From ‘Pinterest Criticism’

UPDATE: After dozens of comments (not all got published) and even half a dozen emails today alone, this post has been pulled. Ultimately the message was not clear and the tone problematic, and I accept full responsibility for that.

Thanks as always for your comments, and passionate work. That always comes through with TeachThought readers, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

The original post appears below.

by Terry Heick

Thanks everyone for the comments on the recent ‘Does Education Have A Pinterest Problem?‘ article. (I also shared this note as an editor’s note there as well.) This post was contributed to TeachThought from an outside educator, as is about 10-15% of our content.

I chose to run the post because I think it makes some valid points and, more broadly, is asking some relevant questions, including: As sources of curriculum become more numerous and varied, what’s holding it all together? How can we fold in more diverse resources while creating a tighter, more ‘precise’ curriculum (i.e., use curricula to help create curriculum)?

An analogy here is to think of a chef, who used to buy all of his/her supplies from 1-3 vendors–with ingredients more or ‘aware of’ one another–suddenly buying from 100 different vendors. The upside is much potential for quality and diversity and new thinking. The downside could be a curriculum full of wonderful lessons that fail to resonate together. (Though this also gets at the idea that units may not be the best approach at all, which we’ve discussed before.)

I didn’t find this insulting of teachers (I am one, as is my wife), or critical of TpT (a site we plan to use more of ourselves to provide exactly these kinds of resources in the future), pinterest, or any other social media channel.

The general thesis, as I read it, had more to do with the idea of curricular and instructional design, for example: “One block is fine, but it’s sort of pointless without the others, and not at its best until everything is in order.” The last line also provides a great summary IMHO: “Pinterest is an easy way to get through the day, and a wonderful resource to supplement our pedagogy, but it’s not the final answer to this question of building brains.”

When you think about the movement from learning model to academic standard to learning target to unit design to lesson design to activity design, being concerned about the way the different pieces (that may not have been built for one another) doesn’t seem to be a stretch, nor does it assume that teachers are thoughtless and incapable. At TeachThought, we assume the exact opposite, in fact.

I’d pull the post if I found it insulting to our collective intelligence as educators (again, this post was contributed from an outside educator), but I enjoy being challenged, and hope that, at the worst, that’s how you’ll take this. I’m a huge believer in pushback, communication, and disruption. That’s how things change!

You can always email me directly to my personal email at terryheick@gmail.com. 

Thanks for all that you do for education in your corner of the world.

–Terry Heick, Director at TeachThought

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3 Comments

  • Terry, if that was the message of the article, it did not come off that way to the reader. I do agree that if a teacher is just randomly pulling lessons – from anywhere – then teacher training is an issue. However, that article made it sound as if teachers that use outside curriculum are not knowledgeable. This is an insult that many teachers have heard from their districts. I have heard from teachers that have been forbidden to use TPT or outside materials. To me, it was just one more time that I have read in an article, comment, etc inferring that teachers don’t know how to teach. Again, I think many found it offensive because of the educational climate. I am really tired of being treated as someone who is incapable of doing my job (after 20 years of service!) That may not have been the intended message of the article, but that was the message that was received.

    • I agree. I felt as if the original post was insulting my ability to discern the quality of the lessons. I like the pinterest and TPT allows teachers to share what they are doing in their classroom. There are a lot of great lessons out there that I can adjust and implement in my classroom. The original post made it seem as if teachers are just randomly pulling lessons from these sites when in reality, teachers are looking at their existing curriculum and looking for new ways of teaching the lesson.

  • I think for me, it was not a matter of the content in the post, but the tone. When the author said that teachers were not curriculum designers, it insinuated that we were less capable of connecting the dots between individual lessons and resources to craft a cohesive instructional unit. I immediately reflected on my own teaching position- one where I am constantly pulling together resources from a website subscription, TeachersPayTeachers, random websites, my own resources, and an old textbook (published before my students were born, and not aligned to current standards). I know without a doubt that this forces me to reflect on my students’ needs MUCH more than reading the next page of a teacher’s manual in a big-box curriculum.

    Yes, cohesion is important- but teachers, as professionals, should have the knowledge and experience to gather the best possible resources for their students and, most importantly, TEACH from them. There may be concerns about what’s better- a piecemeal curriculum, or a cohesive one- but I wish a fellow teacher could give the bulk of the profession a little more credit in using resources thoughtfully.

    I have read other articles on TeachThought, mostly through Twitter, so I won’t hold it against the site as a whole- but that post seemed to make too many generalizations about Pinterest and TpT as well as the teachers who used them. There are certainly potential disadvantages to discuss, but I’d love to see a counterpoint that looks at the benefits of these resources on classrooms as well!

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