I have been tweeting along with math teachers since 2011 before there was something called the #mtbos. I used the hashtag to find educators I could learn from, resources I could use, and kindred spirits to draw encouragement from. I asked questions on the #mtbos tag and shared resources I found. Before there was #mtbos it was just people talking about math and math education on the internet to help each other and become better and I considered that to still be true after #mtbos was coined. If you were talking online about math through twitter or blogs then you were #mtbos. (Apparently some of you were #mtbos and didn’t even know it.)
Today, I use #mtbos for two things, which are basically the two things I have always used it for: community and resources. At the beginning of Twitter Math Camp 2017 Dan Meyer posted what has become a highly controversial blog entry for the math education twitter community. Apparently the biggest criticism of #MTBoS or the Math-Twitter-Blogosphere is the perception that #mtbos is an exclusive club that you have to be worthy to enter. Many people have written on this better than I can and I have so many thoughts that I am afraid that if I let this blog post go on for too long it will go off the rails. So I will try to keep it short.
I saw some criticism of tweeting inside jokes from Twitter Math Camp. This frustrated me a lot. Inside jokes are a natural outgrowth of friendships and shared experiences, especially in get-away camp-like environments. They are not bad. I shared some of my thoughts about this on Twitter:
- The opposite of an exlusive club culture is a culture where no friendship is expressed and community is lost because we are afraid of excluding someone by expressing friendship.
- People in #mtbos are allowed to be friends. They are allowed to express that friendship publicly.
Fawn Nguyen responded that people were being made to feel guilty about having friends and she wasn’t going to apologize to anyone for finding friends in community. I agree whole-heartedly. If you take away the community part of #mtbos then I can just get the resources from Google. The best part of #mtbos is the people in the community. They have completely transformed my teaching philosophy. When a community is as good as the #mtbos is, it is natural for others to see it and go, “Man I want to be a part of that.” When others want to be a part of your community that’s a good sign, not a bad one. It means the community is healthy. I think perhaps because of this discussion those of us who claim #mtbos are reacting against the label of a club. But let’s embrace it.
We’re a club.
It’s a kick-ass club with great people and we learn a lot and tell dumb inside jokes.
There’s no fees to join unless you count your wireless carrier bill.
Please join us. We really want you to. Yes you.