So You Found Me…

So you found me, huh?

In the swirling world of cyberspace where 100,000 new blogs are created daily–publishing 54,000 new articles each hour–you landed here.

Those are some long odds!

And the way that I see it, I have about four seconds to attract your attention.  I’ve got to give you something that will make you want to read on—and more importantly, to come back.  (After all, what good is blogging if no one is listening?)

What makes me unique?  What makes me worth your time?  What’ll keep me from becoming “just another item” in your feed reader?

Because I’m a tempered radical–and everyone loves a radical, right?

Debra Meyerson coined the phrase tempered radical to describe guys like me.  “Tempered radicals are people who succeed in their organizations yet want to live by their values or identities, even if they are somehow at odds with the dominant culture of their organization,” she writes.  “when they assert an agenda or express ideals or identities that are different from what’s dominant or acceptable, they challenge organizational norms.”

I’ve been a challenger since the first day that I walked into a classroom fourteen years ago.  Schlechty would call me a trailblazer–moving forward confidently in the face of uncertainty and taking risks based on an inherent sense of right and wrong.  Trailblazers push organizations forward with unique thinking and a desire for action.

Have I hooked you yet?

Meyerson goes on to write that being a tempered radical also means, “being both an insider and an outsider, working to fit into what is currently acceptable and working to change norms of acceptability.  It’s about rocking the boat, but not so hard that you fall out of it.”

There’s no doubt that I’ve rocked a few boats in my day (and fallen over the edge once or twice too), but I’ve grown more comfortable “working to change the norms of acceptability–and that’s what I hope to spend the better part of the next few months doing.  I want to be provocative and constructive, suggesting alternatives for education informed by an insider’s experiences.  I want to help redefine what it is that we know about teaching and learning, serving as a critical friend.  I want to stimulate thinking, polishing viewpoints and sharing conversations.

I want to learn and to teach and to listen all at once.

Like the best of the blog world, I want this forum to become a place of inquiry where ideas are explored and developed collectively.  I’m looking for readers and responders–those who are brave enough to be open and willing to push back.  As Meyerson writes, “When people feel secure within a community of learning, they are much more likely to challenge the dominant norms and to inquire into the pedagogy used in schools.  Such a context focuses energy on learning rather than proving one’s competence, protecting turf, or maintaining the status quo.”

Let’s make this a community of learning.  Let’s focus our energies and drive change together.  And let’s do it here on The Tempered Radical.

(So are you coming back?)

(Image retreived from on January 19, 2007)

2 thoughts on “So You Found Me…

  1. Bill Betzen

    Good work. I have been searching for a community to discuss issues our middle school students face. They are at a frighteningly vulnerable age. Two years ago we started what we call the Middle School Archive Project at our inner-city middle school here in Dallas. It is described at I would value thoughts on this Language Arts project designed to connect our students with their own futures. We must more effectively motivate them to fight the 60% dropout rate we face in Dallas. How would such a project fit with your students in South Carolina?

  2. Tom Hoffman

    Actually, picking up an audience for your blog is a long term process… you just have to keep writing and your audience slowly aggregates. It isn’t like pitching a TV show. Anyhow, I’m subscribed.

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