Reality Check

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Been There, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 7, 2018

    I was under the impression that a forum by definition is a place where ideas and views on various subjects can be freely exchanged for the purpose of facilitating open discussion. This is in sharp contrast to the typical repressive school environment where potentially provocative unorthodox ideas are, more often than not, discouraged.

    From Day 1, I've noticed that educators tend to look inward for solutions to problems - instead of looking outside the schoolhouse to learn how experts in other fields resolve similar problems. In fact, there seems to be a general belief that schools are so different from other institutions that even discussing what goes on outside the bubble is like comparing apples with oranges and would be meaningless or a sheer waste of time. Student conduct in schools abroad, public vs. private schools, interviews in the private sector - forget it! What makes American public school culture so unique that any comparison to another entity is irrelevant? A recent thread in this forum included a discussion of morale boosters - something that has been studied extensively in the corporate world and used with great success by Fortune 500 companies. Sadly, few school administrators that I've worked with were concerned about improving low staff morale. Effective problem-solving often requires a willingness to look in the most unexpected places for practical solutions - yes, including outside the schoolhouse.

    I once had the privilege of participating in an intense doctoral program along with managers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, an HR director and administrators from both the public and private sectors - one highly-motivated individual even flew in from Hawaii every two weeks - it was an intimidating experience to say the least. The candidates worked for major hospitals, PG&E, PacBell, HP, a restaurant chain, Silicon Valley startups and a few school districts. I was fascinated by the stimulating, interdisciplinary seminar discussions and learned there's hardly anything that's unique to schools - there are universal principles and practices that can be applied to any setting to solve long-standing problems. Later, I went back to work in schools where I was able to experience first-hand what could be achieved by borrowing proven methods from other fields.

    Regardless of how comfortable or successful one's own workplace may be, participants in this forum should be cognizant of the needs of those who are seeking advice or suggestions for serious issues. We would like to think that our sage advice may help others who are struggling to survive, but unless one has actually worked in a dysfunctional school under toxic conditions, that advice may be of limited value. In fact, what has worked for you or me may not work for someone else, with all the unknown variables that may be involved. Ultimately, it's up to the OP to decide what course of action should be taken. So, should that decision be influenced by the number of responses for or against a particular unpopular minority viewpoint? I, for one, think that the contentious arguments that erupt here may actually tend to cloud issues that remain unresolved for the OP. Dismissive, flippant, one-line remarks serve no purpose, except to encourage others to follow suit.

    It's not important whether we agree or disagree with every response, based on limited personal experience or knowledge. Just because you may have a certain experience does not mean you have to argue against a different viewpoint that your don't agree with. It's also not important to see "eye to eye" on any given perspective or to debate an issue until we do. Gut or emotional responses aside, we should always make a sincere effort to put oneself in another's shoes before saying anything. I don't claim to have all the answers, and neither should anyone else. What is important is that everyone strive to promote a platform of open intellectual discourse that is conducive to helping each other learn new approaches to old problems - merely giving the same hackneyed advice in response to the same repeated issues suggests a need for change. You don't necessarily have to agree or disagree - just food for thought.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  3. RaiderFan87

    RaiderFan87 Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2018

    I feel like this is a long-winded & passive aggressive scolding.
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Jul 11, 2018

    Been There, it's certainly worthwhile to look outside the school environment, but at the same time there *are* differences. The biggest problems with for-profit schools, for example, is that they are indeed motivated by profit above all else, including learning. The most efficient way to increase their profit isn't to increase how well their students learn -- that's difficult, after all -- but to change the public perception of how well students learn. That can mean marketing, that can mean "creative" use of statistics or confusing flowery phrases, it can mean increasing recruitment rather than investing into student outcomes.

    Your passive-aggressive scolding -- because I agree with RaiderFan that that's what your post is -- is sometimes deserved. Like any other profession, teachers DO sometimes become prone to groupthink and calcified thought. Maybe even more so than some other professions. Still, that doesn't mean they're wrong, per se. Is there really a "general belief that schools are so different from other institutions that even discussing what goes on outside the bubble is like comparing apples with oranges and would be meaningless or a sheer waste of time. "? I doubt it's quite as pervasive as you seem to think.
     
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  5. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 11, 2018

    Where does it come off as a "passive aggressive scolding"? Perhaps you can enlighten me on your psychological analysis. I was just expressing a viewpoint on a topic that's rarely discussed. Should I limit my responses to one paragraph in the future?
     
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Connoisseur

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    Jul 11, 2018

    It was maybe a smidge too stern or condescending, but I can see where you are coming from. You raised some valid points that are worth discussing.

    There are/were times where I should have been more tactful with my words here on AtoZ. I at least admit when I’m wrong and apologize if I feel I overstepped the line (I’m not saying you need to apologize or did anything wrong because you’ve done nothing wrong). Not to mention, I’m always willing to learn and accept and/or consider advice given to me by those who are more knowledgeable and experienced than I am.
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Devotee

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:23 AM

    Please. I have the attention span of a squirrel so that would be helpful for me,
     
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  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 7:36 AM

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 9:13 AM

    "It's not important whether we agree or disagree with every response, based on limited personal experience or knowledge. Just because you may have a certain experience does not mean you have to argue against a different viewpoint that your don't agree with. It's also not important to see "eye to eye" on any given perspective or to debate an issue until we do."

    This. This is the only way that we will get to hear the many different perspectives that are represented by our member base. The tendency to want to be the 'master teacher' and tout our own successes and acumen sometimes limits the discussions here. I'd like to see more discussion, not less, even when there aren't obvious solutions.

    That said, the longer the posts, the less likely that harried, overworked members will be likely to participate. Also, members frequently request immediate 'solutions' and strategies that will alleviate their pressing needs.

    I didn't see the OP's post as scolding, but as an important point of view.
     
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  10. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    I thought presenting your opinion or knowledge when you disagree is all part of discussion. Isn't that part of hashing out an idea? For example, if someone came to the boards to discuss hitting students with sticks like is done in other countries and a member has worked in schools when students were hit with sticks and saw the detrimental impact of this procedure, should they sit silently instead of argue against the viewpoint. Should they fail to point out that it may bring compliance but it has other impacts to student learning? A discussion can still go from there discussing the weights of different impacts to determine if one negative is more or less important than the positives, but that discussion won't happen unless someone points out why something won't work in their situation.

    Are you advocating silence when people don't agree with the viewpoint? Or are you advocating acceptance regardless of experience? It seems to me that you are wanting agreement rather than discussion.

    I agree people should try to see how an idea might be able to work, but part of that is for the member putting forth the ideas to explain how that idea will overcome issues others bring forth.
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 10:58 AM

    I think that we should present our views, or solutions, and then not try and argue them to death or to convince the other poster.
     
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  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 11:08 AM

    That requires the OP who is presenting the original idea to not respond with anything other than thank you for your opinion. At that point, we are just putting ideas out there and there is no discussion to find a solution. You either accept that the solution given is 100% accurate and workable or you do not. There would be no compromise in a solution which may actually be a better option than any one person's solution.

    But then, I should not be responding further with my opinion, should I?
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 1:52 PM

    No, I don't mean that at all. It's not that no response is the way to go. In fact, more divergent opinions are great. Sometimes, though, people can be invested more in being right than in expanding conversation.
     
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  14. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:21 AM

    I fully agree. I hope I'm not perceived to be argumentative, as it turns me off to read replies from self-righteous individuals who refuse to let go until the poster either acquiesces to their viewpoint or ceases to respond altogether. Instead of merely focusing on the problems or issues brought forward, there's a tendency for some to express their disapproval of the way some posts are written while others prefer to nit-pick at comments that don't match their own workplace or experience. Dismissive one-line comments are often not conducive to an ongoing dialog. With such a wide range of writing styles and abilities that this group of total strangers exhibit, shouldn't we be just as accepting of multi-paragraph posts and the writer's tone as we are to atrocious grammatical errors and blatant misspellings that are so common. Heck, if one finds a post to be too lengthy for their personal liking, short attention span, or time availability, why not just skim through it or better yet don't bother to read it at all! IMO, such pettiness simply degrades the overall quality, purpose and attractiveness of this forum for professional educators - hence, the motivation for my commentary.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 10:41 AM
  15. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 13, 2018 at 10:43 AM

    Perhaps we can all benefit from reading this brief summary on communication - not for the purpose of criticizing the way others communicate, but to help us better reflect on our own use /misuse of words. Be advised that it consists of several paragraphs and may take a few minutes to read.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 6:57 PM

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