We are having some trouble in the education industry (as well as most other industries) where there are different groups advocating for preferences or beliefs that often interfere with the goals of the other groups. While this phenomenon is not new, it certainly is effective in one and only one thing: emphasizing the power of distraction.
When a police officer pulls us over for speeding, some of the accused are quick to say that others were going faster, or that speeding isn’t a “real crime” or allege accusations of quotas and kickbacks: Distraction. It’s powerful. If the police officer engages in a debate about his or her intentions usually the stop goes on longer, but the accused still drives away with the ticket. Other law enforcement officers say, “Here is your court date, and you can talk to the judge regarding your concerns.” What is rarely effective is to tell the officer, “you hate me” or “I hate you” as a resolution. What we hate is that we got caught speeding not the police officer.
Yet, it happens in the education debate and escalates to embarrassing degrees of barbarism. Examples: You think pre-K is unnecessary, well you are an uneducated fool and let me tell you why. You think charter schools are an effective part of a school district, well then you are stupid. Whole language? Online textbooks? Starting Schools of Times? Should kids be given calculators? The “Opt Out” Movement. You are A, or you are B, and the As hate the Bs and vice versa.
Mudslinging and rumor mongering
don’t solve problems
about what is best for kids,
and it certainly builds higher walls
rather than sturdier bridges.
It’s a good system to create gridlock, that’s for sure. It’s distracting, and it doesn’t solve our problems. However, I must admit sometimes I am entertained by the social media vitriol where people immediately assume bad intentions of others, many of whom they now hate, even though they have never met the individual.
A school director, school board member, or an educator may disagree with you, but that’s no reason to hate him, her or them. Mudslinging and rumor mongering don’t solve problems about what is best for kids and it certainly builds higher walls rather than sturdier bridges.
After more than 20 years in this business, I have even seen it happen among educators. What should be healthy rivalries between neighborhood schools become escalated and fixated around adult egos because there is a habit that if I hate your idea, I hate you too.
Those children in American education that we are fighting about learn from our example. When we lack civility or bully one another, we hurt the adults and the kids. We create distractions rather than solutions and all in all it’s just as Pink Floyd (1979) described, another brick in a very sturdy wall.
Where I live we are in a local election season and nationally we are getting closer each day to electing our next president. I am not impressed with the strategies we are using to promote candidates or discredit others. It’s a distraction to the real issues that challenge us, and there are genuine problems to solve.
As we say in school, the only person you can control is yourself. But, if we each, individually decide we can hate an idea but not hate the person who promotes it, we may be able to mend some fences and actually get work done that benefits kids and our society.
If you disagree with my blog, here is your first chance. Hate the idea, but not the person. I want more from society than the hand we have been dealt, and it’s our decision to create the kind of world we have.
And I for one think there is plenty of hate and that we don’t need to add anymore.