Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Participating in the Homeschool Blog Awards--with Some Trepidation

I have decided to nominate some of my favorite blogs in the 2007 Homeschool Blog Awards, with some trepidation.

Why do I have some trepidation?

It is not because of the rules, although some of those might be cause to disqualify my blog, in the unlikely event that I am nominated. I do not know if my blog will be considered "nice to other bloggers," especially since I do discuss controversial topics and I state my opinions forthrightly. And although I consider my blog 'family friendly' I do not know what that really means, so it may not be 'G-rated' according to someone else because I do not toe the line on matters of conservative politics. But the people who have spent many hours putting this together have their standards and 'those that do the work get to make the rules,' as my grandmother (z"l) would say. So I have decided to participate anyway.

For more on the controversy over rude language please go over to Dana's post at Principled Discovery. I think she has very good insight into this concern. Personally, I do not like to put nasty words (according to my standards) on my own blog, as I am responsible for the content. I have edited comments a few times myself for this reason.

My concern is a new policy this year that a blog must have three nominations in a category in order to be short-listed as a nominee for an award. I can understand the justification given for this policy change. This policy is an attempt to get people to think about the blogs they nominate and then to read those in the categories that they vote on. In other words, it is an attempt to make this something other than a popularity contest. And that goal is admirable.

But I don't think the policy is going to make the goal attainable. For a blog to be nominated three times in a single category, it must already be a popular blog among those readers who will be doing the nominations. And the readers must all like it for the same reason. That makes it unlikely that new and interesting blogs will make it to final voting because good blogs may fit into several categories. So we are likely to get 'the same old, same old' when it comes right down to the winners.

Last year I found some really good blogs that I have since added to my list of "must reads" from the final cut. Such blogs were often new and different, and few of them were nominated more than once. But I had the chance to view them and vote on them. Now, the representation in the final voting will be limited and the voters will be precluded from choosing them as best, even if we think they are, in fact, better than the ones chosen by the committee. Personally, I'd prefer a more democratic approach and I think it would be more encouraging to diverse bloggers in the homeschool world.

But I still like the idea of the awards in general, and I think the committee has done much to reassure those of us who are not in the mainstream for our political views or religious practice to participate. So, despite my trepidation, I'll play.

If you want to know the truth, I really want the opportunity to honor some really interesting blogs.

If you want to play, go to the link above by Saturday and make your nominations. You can nominate yourself--I am just to too much of a Midwesterner to consider that Kosher.


Maddy said...

I'm think I'm disqualified on every front here, but I'll be interested to see your nominations.
Best wishes

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

I don't like the exclusionary side of it. But the ladies there are hardworking and had the best intentions.

I'm a Christian, but I know many wonderful homeschoolers who are Jewish or secular and deserve recognition on their own right as a HOME schooler. I don't like to see the religion card played as an exclusionary tactic.

Dana said...

I agree with your concerns regarding the nomination process. There are a number of blogs I am having difficulty deciding what category they should go in...and what if they get three nominations, but for different categories?

Since Heather and them have unlimited resources, they should just pay for a way to have the process automated so they don't have to worry about the mess of blogs to track. : )

Ha! I have a number of ideas that I think would improve the awards, but then, I'm not about to volunteer to oversee it. So that is that and I'll keep my peace for the most part. : )

Megan over at Imaginif said...

E for what it is worth: I LOVE your blog because it is full of education and not full of God stuff "because that's the way it is.". You will always win my vote because you are balanced in your beliefs and non judgmental attitudes. I much prefer teaching to preaching.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Maddy, I will go ahead and post my nominations. I meant to but ran out of time, LOL! I made them to the Blog Awards though, but I had to go back and send them about 3 e-mails 'cause I kept forgetting things. We'll see how it all works out.

Lindsey, I agree that the ladies are very hard working there and they seem to want to broaden their horizons. They certainly don't deserve some of the nasty comments made about them. I hope they get that I wanted to voice my concern out of respect for them and not out of anger.

Dana, I can't say again how thoughtful your post on the subject was and how gracious you were to all commentors. I think Sprittibee is feeling really hurt by some of the controversial comments elsewhere in the blogosphere. Some responses were really over the top. It sounds like she was not expecting such an attack. I know she worked hard under very difficult situation last year, and Heather...well, one can only admire the courage she has shown this past year.

Megan, I just love you to pieces. We are still saving our pennies here to come down under in another year or two!

Frankie said...

My whole problem with the Homeschool Blog Awards is that is not all-encompassing. Sure, it says secular homeschoolers are welcome, yet the prizes are Christian in nature. All the women who run it are Christian.

To me, they need to see the big picture--homeschoolers are diverse. I would like to see some secular bloggers help run it. I would like to see some prizes that anyone can use. OR I would like to see them rename it to the Christian Homeschool Blog Awards.

It reminds me of my local homeschooling community. Very Christain and not welcoming at all to those who aren't, although all the homeschoolers that I know locally are very nice women.

I think everyone wants to be included and feel welcomed.

I don't swear on my blog. I don't put anything on there that I wouldn't allow my son to see. If I feel something is inappropriate, I announce it.

I have a secular blog. I am a Christian, though. My blog is secular by choice.

I want to participate, I did last year. I think that all types of people need to be represented, but I still struggle with it.

Dawn said...

Frankie, I think you have pretty much summed up my feelings. All I'd have to add was that I was really disapointed in their reaction to the complaints. True, some reactions were pretty strong but there were those of us willing to talk about it calmly. Rather then discuss the matter with us concerns were dismissed out of hand and comments on the HSA site were deleted.

If those awards reflect the homeschooling community, christian and secular, than perhaps discussion should be welcomed rather than discouraged.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Frankie--I understand completely. I had not even looked at what the prizes were. I see the contest as a way to find new (to me) and interesting blogs.

Frankly, I doubt a blog by a Jewish Homeschooling Mom who is also an evolutionary ecologist would ever win, anyway. Probably not.

This is also something I struggle with. On the one hand, I want to participate because I have hopes that by stubbornly doing so, we create a learning and growing opportunity (sorry for the eduspeak) for the current board. On the other hand, I wonder if my participation makes me the "token" Jew that they can point proudly to--the one that is always a bridesmaid, never a bride, so to speak-- while steadfastly refusing to learn and grow. Only time will tell.

Dawn--I did look for a comments page in order to see what the fuss was all about. I did not find one. I did not realize that there had actually been such a page and that it has since been deleted.
I was sorely tempted to delete a comment on my blog that contained the "f" word, but I cut it, copied it with an editorial comment and reposted it. I want my blog to be a haven of free (as opposed to mean and nasty) speech.
However, it may be that the ladies over at HSBA were overwhelmed by the negative responses. I know that I get my feelings hurt by gratuitous nastiness directed at me. I guess time will tell!