|MConger to me||6:10 PM (20 hours ago)|
MConger: are you there?
MConger: can i vent for a sec and/or get some feedback?
me: of course, otherwise we would have a very one-sided relationship
MConger: ha. here goes: i think i’m fundamentally sad about the state of discourse about school perfection and i’m going to use that phrase “school perfection” for now because i’m done with “ed reform”…
assuming, of course, that perfection is an on-going process.
anyway, i am just truly disheartened by the blatant negativity
the immediate inclination to tear down rather than build up
no wonder nothing changes when everyone is a critic…
i feel like this is a pattern we’ve seen before in other big issues/crises
set the unhappy citizens upon each other, rather than upon the problem
i think i’ve felt this way for a long time
but it was really surfaced by watching waiting for superman
because, hey, i’m hip, i’m with it, i’m on twitter
and there’s been SO MUCH buzz about how awful the movie is, how one-sided, how imperfect, how inaccurate, how unfair to teachers or public schools or students or whatever and i was ready to watch it and tear it down myself
i went into that theatre very cynical, prepared to poke holes in any given scene
MConger: i walked away so very disappointed in my community of educators
because i felt that this movie was just someone trying to tell a story about a piece
of a huge problem in a way that was accessible and compelling
and what do the big shot “ed reformers” do in response? rip it to shreds rather than pull out the positives and build on them tens of thousands of people are going to think more about education than they have before because of this movie
maybe hundreds of thousands
and what’s the ed community doing?
bashing each other
ripping it down
no wonder change doesn’t happen when we’re so quick to go negative on each other
and i don’t want to seem like i think this is an easy issue and we should all play nice
there are HUGE things at stake that folks should be passionate about
but this negativity that tinges EVERYTHING is killing me
and i see it big time with the stuff happening in my home district
my parents are caught in the middle of it and it’s totally wearing them out, making them cynical and shortening their vision about what’s possible
it’s this short view of change that’s driving me nuts, i think.
which, of course is tied to the political cycles and nature of it all
but i feel deeply deeply saddened by it
i find that attitude more difficult to fix than failing schools
me: you should be sad
I of course, completely agree with you
there are real children in real schools who are trying desperately to make it through what they know is a really messy world and all around them, an entire nation of educators seems to be telling them lies—complicated things are really simple; rules are the same for everyone; study hard get educated, get rich—you should be sad
sadness is an appropriate response that proves you’re a sane and caring person
It seems like our entire educational community is caught mirror-gazing.
fascinated with ourselves, our conflicts, our relationships
as if that had anything to do with helping young people learn and grow strong
MConger: indeed. i’m just coming to this realization that i think i’m actually sadder about the adults’ trenchant negativity and narcissism than i am the students’ plights
me: that’s right too though, in each individual student there is endless hope and possibility
MConger: well, i also think that with any given kid, in any given classroom or school, there’s always room for growth
i guess i’m taking a flux/chaos approach here
MConger: beware anyone who says they have the answer that will fit every kid, classroom, school, etc.
the fact remains that we don’t know how to make all of this work like clockwork
and we need to be ok with that
we need to take that as a fundamental premise
so we can open ourselves up to the possibilities for improvement
i guess i’m a locavore in a way
well, let me stop
i’m going off on a different tangent
MConger: the point is, until we fix the way our community engages in discussing these problems and supporting each other in their resolutions, we’re [profanity omitted].
everyone feels bad
and on the defensive
and as though they’re getting the short end of the stick
MConger: and i’m scared about saying this stuff out loud, because a really easy retort is: THIS IS TOO IMPORTANT TO PLAY NICE
and i dont want to seem as though i’m saying let’s all just get along and things will change
as though i don’t have high standards
me: you didn’t say that
MConger: or good arguments
me: to me you said that it is foolish to reduce and destroy for the sake of politics
MConger: but the more i read, experience, study, think, the more i truly believe that the state of education discourse is the problem.
not just foolish, but i think it’s at the root of the problem
me: very different aspects of school policy should be treated as the same just because the same person happens to support them
MConger: i think it’s right up there with systemic poverty and racism, honestly
me: I would argue it is, in fact a representation of both
ugh. i’m just so down about this.
me: can I post some of this on my blog?
I may be beating this discourse drum too hard
is it too late to post today?
I have like six things half ready
MConger: oh post away
me: can I post this convo?
minus some of the profanity and harsh edges?
I can send you a draft and site you or not as you please
MConger: oh post
you can use my profanity
just throw in a #$%
me: we don’t curse at the real school 🙂
MConger: if you need to clean it up 🙂
whatever you like is fine
i trust you
I crack myself up
MConger: this is the thing
i don’t want to talk to anyone full of hate anymore
i just wnat to be a principal
and do my best
and help other people do their best
in our corner of the world
become a principal
you know I think that is only a partial truth, but it is a really powerful one
me: You know who we miss, Mark Twain, now there was one of the great truth-tellers in American history. He was a man who could take a complex topic and wrap it up in folk truths until it was intelligible, but not dumbed down
MConger: sorry to disappear on you there
amen to mark twain