When I first saw this tweet, it literally made me laugh out loud:
A lot has changed since I started teaching in 1999. This was seemingly my biggest dilemma with technology at the time.
It used to be that people wouldn’t admit that they met their partner online and they would make up a story. It was weird to meet a person online, and now, most of my friends, are people I connected with online before I ever met in person. Some of the people who have had the biggest impact on my learning were once considered “strangers” to me. The narrative of “don’t talk to strangers” has now progressed into something much different. We are all “strangers” until we meet, whether online or offline, but as one of my favourite quotes states:
“Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Yet in education, some things stay the same. Relationships are the core of great schools and as I have stated often, 50 years ago, relationships were the most important thing in education, and 50 years from now, it will be even more so; you can get great content anywhere. The human connection is something that we will always need.
Educators have always believed that respect is important in schools, but perhaps, we are focusing more on respect being a two-way street, and not something we just expect to command from our students for being there.
What is important is that we recognize the following:
- Some things change.
- Some things stay the same.
- All things are opportunities where we can grow.
There are no absolutes in education. Silence doesn’t mean bad learning environment, while noise means good learning environment, or vice-versa. Textbooks and worksheets do not make you a bad teacher, but if that is the only way you teach, there are kids who are losing out. Makerspaces are great for some kids, and not necessarily beneficial to others. Collaboration is not only good, while isolation is only bad.
What is needed is that we see there are not “sides” to education; we are all on the same team. There is a lot a “forward-thinking teacher” can learn from a “traditionalist”, and again, vice-versa.
I guess there are some absolutes. We can all learn, we can all grow, and we all get better by being open to conversations with one another in service of our kids.
Ask questions. Try to understand other viewpoints. Keep focused on serving students but start off with the assumption that others are doing the same.
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People