Transparency, Radical or Otherwise

Responding to Doug Johnson, who in turn is responding to Miguel Guhlin, who has made his RSS work again. :)

My managers and co-workers read my blog (though not as speedily as I would like). My mother reads my blog. So I don't "write as though" they read it; I write knowing they read it. They all know I am fallible, that I sometimes have bad days, that I'll call someone out if they deserve it, and (most importantly) that I'm passionate and care about my work. Which makes most mistakes permissible.

I gripe where the griping will do the most good. If necessary, I'll redact names - my long tirade about my doctor didn't need to name the doctor, but it still needed to be said (and was probably read by him). I've written of the incompetence of our provincial government, just before the election in which it was defeated. I'll say good things where they're warranted - but the main point is, if I ever want to see my ideas implemented locally, I have to write about what's happening locally. (I find my influence on the global arena to be pretty minimal).

I sometimes write for edited publications, but I don't like it when they edit my work. Part of this is my own style - I really hate revisiting work I've already written. But part of it is aesthetics - I find first draft work a lot more authentic, if rough around the edges. Some people think by means of writing; me, I write in order to express my thinking. These are two very different acts. My employers have reacted negatively to my blog in the past, so it's hosted on my own server, which I pay for myself, and any other concern is relegated to our common understanding that I enjoy freedom of speech, even as a member of the public service (I add in passing that I am amazed at how many Americans say they can't say this or that for fear of reprisals, all the while proclaiming to be the most free people in the world).

I do write out of goodness, but it's not a stance I take in order to make the rest seem acceptable. I honestly believe that what I have to say is good and that I am producing good in the world by expressing it. This hasn't always been the easiest thing to believe. I have, as a matter of fact, been writing since I was young, but until I was 23 or so my writings remained mostly private. When I started university I joined the student newspaper, and had a very solid shell of shyness to surmount. I still grill myself on a regular basis: am I relevant? Is what I say accurate? Do people care?

So - this is the thing about transparency. It requires a lot of courage on the part of the person being transparent, but it requires more that the people observing understand that they are viewing a real person, with real faults, real opinions, real ideas and real fears. We harm ourselves and each other by assuming that everybody must conform to some sort of magazine-perfection.


  1. well said stephen

    :-) (roseg)

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks so much for this response. I consider you among the most honest and forthright voice writing in education. I don't always agree with you but I never doubt your sincerity or selflessness. Rare qualities in writers.

    You may not know this, but a response you gave to one of my blog entries five years ago really changed my view of blogs and blogging . You argued then as you do now of the importance of the personal voice in blogging. You convinced me.

    I don't know that "writing out of goodness" rules out being critical. But I do think it demands that the criticism be constructive in nature. Not just describing how something is wrong, but also how it could be better. I wish more of our politicians followed this here in the US.

    Wishing I had your courage and intellect!

    Have a good weekend,


  3. > I do think it demands that the criticism be constructive in nature. Not just describing how something is wrong, but also how it could be better.

    Fair enough, but I don't always feel an obligation to solve a problem before pointing out that it exists. Imagine the sate of the world if I could not complain that I'm sick without also describing how to cure myself! Very often, the larger part of the battle (as people like AA know well) is getting people to see that there is actually a problem.

    Other times, it's just me the small spider yelling out loud at the big shoe that's stepping on me. I don't feel any need to do anything other than yell; it's the great big lout with the boot who has the power and the means to step somewhere else.

  4. I hear you. And thanks for your work and your blog, too.

  5. This is so true Stephen!
    Very well written. Felt really nice after reading..
    barbed wire


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