Let’s Have an Honest Conversation

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There aren’t a lot of honest conversations taking place in education these days. There’s a lot of talk, no doubt. But not a lot of veracity – habitual honesty – in what is being said. Here are some common behaviors observable on and off line:

  • Denial –refusing to accept verifiable fact to avoid modifying one’s thinking
  • Hyperbole –exaggerating information to trump up or attack a point of view
  • Pandering – catering to a perceived bias to enlist the support of others
  • Posturing – positioning one’s self to advocate for a predetermined outcome
  • Propaganda – spreading misinformation to influence the viewpoint of others
  • Proselytizing – inserting ideology into a discussion to limit open dialog

What is the common denominator in each of these examples? Politics. Our professional discussions are becoming a reflection of the politicization of education. We recognize it in elected officials and decision makers, but do we recognize it in our selves?

I’m not talking about lively, invigorating debate that vets ideas and builds consensus for the best answers. That’s a cornerstone of western education. I’m referring to jaded, cynical, self-serving verbal sparring conducted by opportunists working personal agendas. How’s that for not candy-coating the situation?

We have become so impacted by non-educators politicizing our work, we are now doing it to each other; some of us to the extent we are acting like political players, selling out what is right and best and good for convenient, expedient self-interest.  There are too many players in the field for my taste, playing by their own set of rules…cannibalizing our profession’s integrity…and operating on quid pro quo opportunism.

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If you are working under a supervisor or alongside a colleague who operates like this, you know what I’m talking about. They make it very difficult for you to uphold your own professional standards.  It becomes harder and harder to do what you know is right and best and good.

Players trade in their values to rationalize their own desired version of reality. “What does it matter? Perception is reality. One person’s opinion is as good as another. Individual preference trumps the greater good. Aren’t we entitled to whatever we can gain for ourselves?” Thankfully, reality isn’t defined by what someone wants. Reality is…well…real! And ultimately we all have to come to terms with the real world.

I understand how we have gotten to this point. Distracted by the politicization of our profession, some have lost their way. But where is the tipping point? When do we, as a profession, become the problem? I worry it’s in the process of happening without our even recognizing it.

We are educators, not players. Players take on a role outside themselves, in a game that does not matter. Education is not a game, nor a playing field…and being an educator matters!

We need to get back on track, reclaiming our charge as educators.  Making ethical choices. Practicing honest dialog. Vigorously recommitting to our common work. Modeling what is right and best and good for children.

Be. Don’t play.

When you play, you set yourself up to lose…maybe not up front…but sooner or later.

Just be…be the professional you are meant to be.

You can’t lose that…you can only give it away.

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