We’re all Soldiers now


One of my favourite storylines in Blizzard’s Overwatch is that of Soldier 76. Essentially a character who’s full of experience and grit, but a fading hero. Soldier 76 is a great character in every situation in the game, almost the perfect utility in attack and defense. His story is that of ‘everyman’ looking for justice and truth in the shadowy world around him – assisted by experimental technologies and cyborg-esque modifications from the heroes found in COD or BF. When you don’t have Soldier 76, you can still win, but his absence is often understated by the rest of the far more glamorous heroes in the game.

The other side of gaming is the ‘post-truth’ culture, which my image attempts to capture. I also read that this term is not ‘a thing’ until the Oxford Dictionary made it one … so I subscribe to the idea of instant invention – in a “Do you have a flag?” Eddie Izzard manner – things become ‘important’ because unilateral ‘case making’ no longer requires any evidence and more importantly doesn’t appear to care about truth or the bigger picture. I’m reminded of Seth Godin saying “the internet is all about me, my favourite person – me” over a decade ago. Reality check: Educational attainment is still the on-ramp to success in the neo-liberal society and teachers (like it or not) do the job to help young people do that. The old jokes about “holidays” and “working half a day” seem mild in comparison to some of the ignorant comments that are posted online. Yes your brother works for Steam – how did he get that job? – A teacher, not a vitriolic and slanderous post.

News Flash: Teachers have the same rights as everyone else, so think before you post.

I also read that the term ‘post truth’ is not ‘a thing’ until the Oxford Dictionary made it one … so I do subscribe to the idea of an instant invention of reality: where ideas, truth and lies are beeing enabled by our public access to technology. It isn’t just Trump who does it – but clearly reflects a lack of public indignation when it happens. We each take a relative position – but most of us don’t see it as a green light to indulge in slagging off people – especially those whom provide essential welfare and care: but if you’re in a profession such as teaching, nursing, policing etc., – you’ve probably seen more than one derp post this week – and let it go, let it go. It’s great to see so many American colleagues no accepting Trump’s rubbish and defending both teachers and the essential institution of ‘education’ itself.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century phil­osopher who is often invoked to justify post-truth, was a relativist, and he does suggest at times that deception is rife and should not be cat­egorically rejected.

His point is to complicate our view of human behaviour and to object to moral certainties that encourage black-and-white judgements about what’s good and what’s evil. Thus he denies that there are moral facts, saying that we have only “moral interpretations”, and in doing so denies that moral assertions are unconditionally true. – Kathleen Higgins

We have taken the idea of being entitled to an opinion to a level where firing off ill-informed opinion in the pursuit of causing harm to others (based interpretation of self-selective, third party contextual opinion is sufficient to use epistemic relativism to feel better about yourself and to intimidate others – whether you’re 10 and on Steam, a parent with an opinion about your child’s school or a politician with a view about all schools.

If you are a teacher – you know that motivating children to motivate themselves is the central challenge in this post-truth era of opinion and sky-rocketing ability to attend to personal gratification: posting, commenting, following links or consuming video. It’s very satisfying to fire off your opinion and dismiss the reality of the action and seek a twisted pleasure in waiting to see what happens once you’ve ‘had your say’. The construction of the tele-self has become important to people – though many just see it as ‘posting’ or thier opinion.

I can’t help but relate Soldier 76’s storyline to the reality of being a teacher at the meta-level. I read the posts of colleagues around the world – battling to keep education relevant. As Soldier 76 says “Heal up over here” and we need more Soldier 76s in classrooms who don’t subscribe to the rise of public comment as moral truth.

There’s also the personal battle to praise effort and actions, build relationships, use co-op learning, and show students the advantages of doing well in school. In a post-truth world, creating opportunities to help them make decisions – such as “do I complete this today?” or “do I get up from my seat and find out” are not automatic behaviour’s for many.

There’s a real danger that post-truth culture enables the very real realities that not all students are self-motivating, and for some a pre-emptive strike against the school or others in the school makes perfect post-truth sense. Don’t worry if it’s true, in context – just as long as the person knows your brother works for Steam. Even worse, add the fact you are taxpayer or fee payer, thus making your opinion a plasma canon of retribution valid.

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If you have not discovered Thomaz, do so. He’s always been Soldier 76 an un-affraid to tackle the public discourse about equity, in-equity, derp and the rise of anti-intellectualism towards teaching etc.,

It’s hard to pick a couple of Tweets from the dozens he pushes out to ‘heal up over here’. People are more motivated and confident when they feel they have more control over their environment – and in a world of instant gratification (messages, email, texts) there is this real danger that the considered, professional and caring act of teaching  – a deeply human dimension of civic society – and  remember and recognise the deeply emotional, human experience of being both student and teacher.

This comes before brands, before ‘having your say’ or subscribing to the post-truth culture. I’m a parent. It is beyond the edge of my reasoning to launch an attack on my children’s teachers. Maybe if I was a Fireman I would, but somehow I doubt it.

Technology: once the thing brought into schools to ensure students can work in the information economies etc., is populated by those with the post-truth ‘report em all’ mindset – the same people who probably ‘correct’ people on Facebook or fail to realise that their ‘right to an opinion’ is equally matched by our right to have an alternative view – and to be offended by it – not least when I read comments online about how bad teachers and schools are.

Boring lessons will not assist students to develop student intrinsic motivation to learn and Soldier 76 will probably keep working on avoiding that despite the post-truth mentality that appears (in my view) to be evident in public social media comment.

Now where’s my tactical visor. This is my blog and I’ll write what I like too.