I’ve invested my daily word count off-site, lately, into a productive e-mail exchange with Clay Burell, one which spread itself across issues of civil online discourse and the significance of membership in an online community where the only membership requirement is diligent self-regulationOne which stands in direct opposition to the pointlessness of our online exchange, both my original jab and his rejoinder, which was so far over the top it wasn’t difficult to dismiss..

To make a long summary short, I intend to step my diligence up.

To keep that short summary long, my liability here in this community is that I am extremely disinterested in your emotional attachment to your own ideas. I am very interested in the merits and demerits of your ideas but I find it very easy – too easy, I realize – to consider them apart from the fact that you have built a career or a family around them.

This attitude has made for a very focused first year of blogging but it has also earned me a table setting as the edublogosphere’s enfant terrible, a reputation for being confrontational and abrasive, one which I am uninterested in perpetuating.

So I raise a glass here to the inseparable bond between emotion and ideas and apologize sincerely for having tried to address one without respect to the other, repeatedly, over a year, with a lot of people. Membership in this esteemed crowd demands greater understanding than that.

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. I was honest when I blogged the other day that I truly believe you will have a HUGE impact on the education world at the national level (speaking, presenting, evangelizing). Just hope that you don’t end up burning too many people on both ends of the bridges before you get there :)

  2. I’d like to caution against dialing back too much, though.

    Part of why you’re near the top of my feed reader is because you don’t sugarcoat what you’re saying. I may not always agree with you on everything (though usually i’m nodding my head along like a bobblehead), but even then it is still a breath of fresh air in the edubabble.

    Be careful of poking actual people, but I hope you continue to skewer ideas with the same zeal and abandon.

  3. Mountain, meet molehill. You used to be one of these, mountain, before folks decided to blow you so completely out of proportion that you expanded beyond all recognition. Now you’re considerably larger, mountain, which is maybe how some prefer it, but most of your mass is accounted for by excessive amounts of hot air.

  4. Dan,
    Please don’t change too much. I discovered your site about a week ago (5 days) and since then I have read every post and every comment on it. (yes, it took some time to do, but it was worth it.)
    Perhaps it is in the personal responses via email you are being accused of being abrasive, but in your postings and responses here, you come across as passionate, deeply committed, and very thoughtful.
    Yes, most of us are also passionate and deeply committed as well, but those of us who are new teachers are learning tremendous amounts from you about what we are doing wrong and right.
    I have already come up with several new lessons for the next two weeks because of reading your blog.

    Keep it up and THANK YOU!

  5. I’ve been quietly reading you (and beyond school) for the better part of the last year. I thoroughly enjoy (and learn much from) your posts. Keep your style as is.

  6. Dan, I still read, and I still will read you. I suggested you watch the snark factor earlier on (Fall I believe). There are two things that have continued to make you okay in my book:

    1. You are willing to be as ruthless (if not more) on what you are doing (esp. in the classroom) as you are on others;

    2. The roots of your comments are in trying to keep it real;

    3. Most importantly, you’re willing to admit you might have gone too far.

  7. I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with being confrontational or abrasive. If another’s idea deserves a challenge then it deserves a challenge. Like Mr. K, I’d caution you against pulling back too much.

  8. I’d agree with Peter on this one – challenge the idea, not the person. Of course, there are some people who are so wrapped up in their ideas that a challenge on their idea is viewed as a personal affront. I still say that seeing it’s your blog, you set the tone and the ground rules.

  9. I recently challenged the idea that to be Christian means to be anti-abortion. I asked a twitterer, “If Jesus knocked up his girlfriend and she wanted to get an abortion, would he support her?”

    That person no longer follows me on Twitter and kicked me off of following their private updates. 1 minute before that I was being praised for asking a “good” question (If Jesus was on twitter, how many followers would he have?) by the same person.

    Abrasive? Confrontational? Perhaps. But I certainly wouldn’t think twice about asking that question again.

    I take an amazingly (and genuinely) polite tone when people I disagree with are open to dialog with me. When they are not (or act like they are) and I feel their ideas are bogus, the confrontational and abrasive side of me doesn’t hesitate to come out and play.

  10. I don’t know Peter … I find little help in being intentionally offensive. The medium (blog posts/comments) can so easily backfire in the realm of intention and emotion that there’s little need to push those boundaries. So, I guess if all you really want is to snarl back, then that’s fine. But if the goal really is to challenge ideas, sift and sort and find the best ones, then I’m going to clap loudly for Dan’s open decision to pay more attention to “how” his ideas are received (because he’s had a clear handle on the “what” for quite a while).

    It’s a shame to see good ideas disregarded for a controllable factor like tone.

    On the other side, Dan, watching tone so as not to be an intentional ass is different than becoming a mealy-mouthed pushover … but I have little fear that you’ll swing too far in the other direction. ;)

  11. It’s the classic thinker-feeler scale on the Meyers-Briggs personality test. Everyone falls on one side of the spectrum or the other. Some, myself included (and from what I read on this blog you too), fall farther to one extreme than the other. I am an extreme thinker and often hurt other people simply because I don’t realize that they are so “feely” about things and don’t understand that I sometimes need to adjust my presentation of ideas to sidestep hurtful touchy-feely moments. However, it is a balance. Sometimes us thinkers need to be reminded about people and feelings and sometimes those feelers need to toughen up and push through their emotions to get the job done.

    On a completely unrelated note…I love the blog. I started blogging over a year ago out of desperation in dealing with some terrible management and discipline problems that I had never faced before. Since then I’ve been wishy washy about blogging but recently decided to return with purpose as I’m looking at starting a PhD program in C&I with an emphasis in PD and Teacher Ed. Research in that field somehow landed me hear and I’ve read every post from beginning to end. You’ve got some great stuff going on here. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be posting lessons and joining more in the conversations come Fall!