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No fans, thank you

February 10, 2010

When I’m not taking English classes to get the English parts of my license down and when I’m not taking Education classes, I’m usually writing. Like many writers, one day, I’d like to be published. As a result, I’ve found pockets on the internet that nurture writing and provide both support for the writing process and critiques which can be more practical than supportive! Through my experiences with writing sites, I’ve learned about a new marketing strategy that entails finding and retaining 1,000 True Fans. These are supposedly people who will be so in love with your work that they will buy anything and everything you produce.

At first, the idea sounded intriguing. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it: I don’t have the type of charisma, nor the amount of energy and interest in marketing to be able to sustain this sort of thing. But it still sounded like a cool idea.

Until I met some fans.

Well, of course, I’ve known fans of one thing or another before, but I saw them in a new light this time. I have now decided that I never want to have any fans. Not a single one. And I don’t think any teacher should want fans.

Why? Because fans don’t think. As a teacher, what I want most, is to help my students learn to think for themselves, to find meaning that matters to them, and to honor their own processes, as well as their strengths. Fans don’t do this. Fans follow the person they’re infatuated by. They stop thinking for themselves and just repeat what their High Poobah says. They bully others who have opposing views or processes. They believe that in their High Poobah, they have found the One True Way, and if it works for them, it must work for everyone. More importantly, they think that if someone else doesn’t find the One True Way by following the High Poobah, it’s because that other person is lazy or disrespectful.

If I have people who love me or who admire and respect me, that doesn’t mean I want them to go around disrespecting others. If I have students who learn something from me, I don’t want them to silence the ones for whom my suggestions don’t work. Because as soon as they are silenced, I won’t be able to find the way to reach them. And I won’t be able to learn from them either.

Learning is a two-way street, and if I ever end up on such a pedestal that people are afraid to tell me when something doesn’t work, I will stagnate. And if they do it out of fear of my “fans,” it will be that much harder to reach them and help them find their meaning.

So, no, I don’t want any fans. I want people to explore, to think, and to grow. And if something I’m doing doesn’t work for them, I want them to feel comfortable telling me so.

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