Influence

Ewan’s post today has me thinking about influence. He talks about the small group of

… good teachers sharing new ideas about how we can do our jobs better.

We all know who they are. Ewan himself is one of them. But then he goes on to discuss two other ideas. The first is:

It’s not how influential you are…

Ewan says that us regular people can also become influential by being passionate about an idea to our friends and colleagues. So it seems to be as much about passion as influence. He says:

Get some regular folk together and you have a chance that your idea hits the mainstream.

I think that is what is happening with the use of social media in schools. I wonder how many of us really blog or use wikis because Will Richardson says its a good thing to do. A lot of us, I’m sure. But I know more examples of people who have been influenced to blog by watching their colleagues do it. Because that is where the support comes on a daily basis.

I have noticed in my own life that I read fewer and fewer of the most important bloggers and more of the regular people bloggers. Some of the “influential” bloggers that I read are ones I have been reading since before they were so influential. But more often than not, I get really great ideas from regular people who are passionate about what they do.

Ewan also says:

If being influential isn’t important, wherefore professional organisations?
Does this stand up in an age where anyone with ideas that society can grasp can take on an influence of their own?

This is also an interesting idea to me. I find myself not very interested in what my large professional organizations can do for me. Because I don’t see that they can do much for me. On a more local level, yes, professional organizations can help me, but an international or national level organization seems too far removed from me to be of much benefit. The influence of large groups comes from sheer numbers. And that makes it hard to create a sense of passion about anything but increasing the size and influence of the organization.

Influence is a tricky thing. It is probably true that we need “influential” people and organizations. But I don’t believe we should abdicate responsibility to be influential in our own spheres — however small they might be. In the long run, the most influential people are those who just go about their lives doing what they can to make the world a better place.

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