Virtue Signalling

First off …


Today marks a day of rotating strike action by ETFO members in the following districts:

  • Avon Maitland
  • Durham
  • Durham Catholic (designated early childhood educators only)
  • Halton
  • Hastings-Prince Edward
  • Lambton Kent
  • Rainbow
  • Thames Valley
  • Upper Canada
  • Upper Grand
  • Campbell Children’s School Authority

Details here.

Unfortunately, the voicEd This Week in Ontario Edublogs show had glitched when it was to be broadcast from the OLA Superconference. There were great blog posts to talk about and this one from Melanie White “Listening to Reflections” generated a comment from our guest host that day, Diana Maliszewski, about “Virtue Signalling”. Melanie’s original post had talked about the challenges that she had experienced using social media in the classroom.

Now, I’ll be honest and admit I hadn’t heard that expression below and Diana had just a few minutes to expand on it. I made myself a note to do some more work.

There’s a whole article devoted to it on the Wikipedia

Virtue signalling is a pejorative neologism for the conspicuous expression of moral values.[1][2] The origin of the term is often credited to journalist James Bartholomew from an article in The Spectator in 2015.[3]

It’s an interesting read as well as this article 12 Examples of Virtue Signaling.

Our original discussion had spurred me on to some additional reflection. Thanks, Diana.

What my reflection did was give my feelings something to hang my hat on. There are times when I’m consuming media only to see a celebrity or someone who thinks they’re a celebrity pictured doing the “right thing” or they’re talking about some cause that they are only on the sidelines about or they’re promoting their newest book.

While I don’t see this concept going away any time soon, I found it kind of healing to note that there is a label for this concept and there are others that are similarly challenged by it.

I’m not all in with all of the examples; maybe Tribalism is a good example; I’ll always be a Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Vikings, Montreal Canadiens fan.

However, I will think about the impact the next time I take a selfie.

It’s an interesting concept to think about – where is that fine line between actually doing good as opposed to posting something that makes you look like you’re doing good?


7 thoughts on “Virtue Signalling

  1. I’m going to do something that might be seen as virtue signalling in my comment. I often see virtue signalling coming up in contexts around equity.
    I’m going to ask you to think about your use of “tribalism”. I noticed recently that Dr Debbie Reese (who was one of the speakers at OLASC) had managed to have a major organization change the name of their upcoming online book club from something involving the word “tribe”. If we are not First Nations or another culture that uses tribal membership as an identifier, we tend to use it to mean “our people” – the people that get us – the groups we give our allegiance to as a fan. By doing so, in some ways, whether deliberately or not, we are co-opting a truly powerful identifies for those cultures. We have communities, we have families of choice, we have many things, but we do not have tribes (and don’t get me started on spirit animals!). Just something I think we need to think about in our patterns of thinking, speaking and writing.

    Quietly stepping off my soapbox. Thanks for listening.


    1. It seems to me, that your comment is exactly virtue signalling.

      It’s particularly noteworthy since, whenever I’ve made a mistake in the past, you’ve let me know in private. This time around, you’v left your perception out in the open for all to see.


  2. And I just had to laugh, because I should really have directed my concern about the word to the person who wrote the piece on virtue signalling. 🙂


  3. I guess it’s partly because I’m not necessarily seeing it as a mistake, and my goal was certainly not to make you feel that way. I think a lot of us (me included) do this all the time. We use words that we’ve always used. My apologies if you felt that I was trying to shame you in any way. I want all of us to think about our language more deliberately.


  4. I think we really need to be careful about becoming the ‘language police’. Coming out publically to ‘correct’ someone’s use of language is rarely a good idea. It reminds me of the bad old days of Bill 101 and the language police of Québec.
    It lacks social grace to criticize a colleague publically. Soapbox or not.


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