Two quotes. Same author. Different texts. Different days.
“Even so, their test scores were nothing to brag about.”
“Protect your children… Opt out [of tests] in 2016.”
To be human is to be a hypocrite. We forgive ourselves for actions that we punish others for. We frame our words within the gorgeous complexity that is our internal dialogue but judge others’ based on a context of our choosing. When we contradict ourselves, we can re-frame the dissonance in a way that soothes our feathers. When others do it, we snipe, parse, point, and snark.
To be human is to want it both ways. Volunteers who work at women’s health clinics tell of parents who protest in front of the clinic on Monday and bring a daughter in on Tuesday. Public school advocates speak about their love and adoration for the system and then enroll their children in private schools. Self-proclaimed male progressives write blog posts in which they explain to a group of female professionals how they should do their job. We want nuance. We use hyperbole. We want something new, something better. We rally around “taking back” and “restoring.”
To be a human in education is to be a time-traveler. Teachers exist in the present with the child and the future with the adult that child will become. Those of us who support teachers, who sit on the edges trying to help them make sense of a profession that seems to lurch from firestorm to firestorm, work to use the patterns from the past to inform the present. For parents, I suspect it’s a constant dance between all three – their baby and their great love, their child, and their child’s future.
Given the number of fires that are currently burning in the world of education, it’s a pretty safe bet that 2016 is going to a tumultuous year. It’s my hope we humans who are educators get better at traveling through time. That we get faster at learning from our profession’s yesterdays. We attend more thoughtfully to the biases we carry from our pasts into our presents. That we actively work to ensure our interactions with others don’t leave painful hits they’ll carry forward. It’s my hunch students are looking to see how their teachers handle discourse. They are watching how their parents engage with those who disagree with them and learning. If we want to ensure that the future debaters, discourse-havers, and opinion-makers can do it well, we’re going to have to get better at how we human.
Here’s hoping 2016 is a year in which representatives from various groups in education model that adults can disagree and do it fiercely, gently, thoughtfully, spontaneously, and with as little hypocrisy as possible.