Downes: The Issues in Front of Us

I can’t really get a handle on Stephen Downes. Is he for this emergent 21st-century school? Against it? Is he after something far more anarchic than either of these? These are all rhetorical. Whatever his ideology, I really appreciated his recent deconstruction of a post by Doug Johnson. Johnson’s only offense, from the perspective of this School 2.0 skeptic, was leaning too heavily on jargon and coded language when explicit terms are necessary now more than ever. (Maybe this is what Christian would call a Trojan Horse post.) Repeatedly over the course of his post, Downes asks (essentially), “What do you really mean by this?” which is a question that always leaves me grateful to the asker.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Stephen is a cat full of wisdom and intellectual reach, Dan.

    Perhaps that’s all that’s needed to be known, rather than for us to try to get a ‘handle’ on him. He’s ‘neutral’ in terms of what gets his attention, praise/criticism, as well…and he asks tough questions. His radar and the speed at which he keeps an eye on his aggregrator is humbling. Truly. But a ‘handle’? Not sure he’s trying to be ‘one’ thing that is easily categorized. By any of us.

    As for “Trojan Horses” (et al), perhaps he’s being Socratic. Intentionally. Out of respect for Doug as much as out of challenge to the way Doug framed his questions.

    I’d spend time getting to know Doug, BTW. One of them most thoughtful cats out there with infinite experience working in schools and helping libraries (in particular) evolve and maintain the status they deserve.

    For what it’s worth.
    Cheers, Christian

  2. Yeah, dude’s clearly earned his A-list status, and I’m not demanding he hunker down into one of the designated ideological foxholes. I’ve just found it true that bloggers/people tend to hunker down of their own accord, self-designating, even inadvertently, while a few month of Downes hasn’t left me with a clear sense of him. But that makes him more interesting to me than less.