Last night a debate erupted on twitter around the future of TeachMeet under the hastag #tmdebate. This grassroots professional development and ideas sharing movement has so far been driven in a decentralised way, and this has allowed it to scale hugely. However, there seems to be significant feeling from some that issues are arising that might require a rethink of how the movement organises itself.
The debate ranged across a variety of topics, from the fact that many event organisers are putting themselves at risk of infringing tax rules, the effect of increasing involvement of corporate sponsors, and the drive to involve people outside of the twitter ‘echo chamber’. There were some calls to formalise the TeachMeet movement in the form of setting up a charity or social enterprise.
This morning, long time TeachMeet champion Tom Barrett joined the debate:
The problem is that with a debate that ranged through so many issues, often in a circular way due to people coming in and out, it is next to impossible to reach any kind of consensus. The movement is inherently informal, and I wonder if in trying to formalise any kind of consensus we are simply imposing ’20th century thinking’ onto the issue, as some accused those calling for formal control of the brand through charities or other bodies of doing.
So, without consensus, how does this move forward? What is the ’21st century thinking’ here? A number of times the ‘ScotEduBlog meetup’ that kicked off the movement was cited as some kind of template for the ‘ethos’ of TeachMeet. However, looking at this wiki I don’t see a lot of reflection or debate around values or consensus.
What I do see is a record of a group of people who felt a need for something and acted. They believed in it, it proved to be beneficial- so it grew. It is impossible to seek consensus or permission from a network as disparate as those involved in TeachMeets. The only way forward is to act. I have seen this this weekend with my work on the TeachMeet Facebook presence. Lots of people thought about harnessing the power of Facebook but, until now, no one acted. It is early days, but with 217 ‘Likes’ in two days people are supporting this as a useful development of the movement.
Do what you believe will be beneficial and if others share your belief it will grow. If they don’t it will sink. Consensus will come, but people will vote with their feet not their words- however useful it is to share their thoughts on the matter.
In these decentralised, informal learning communities we are developing, should ‘Act’ be our mantra for change?