I’ve spent some time away from my blog for a while this summer. This was partially intentional as I have been focusing on other things but has also been a result of not finding the right topics to write about. I find that forcing myself to write about things that I’m not passionate about or don’t have strong feelings for turns out to be poor writing anyway. I would rather take some time away than write about things that I am indifferent towards. Being in education provides a unique layer and a unique filter to my content. Journalists, professional bloggers, stay-at-home dads (or moms), and people from a wide variety of professions can articulate ideas and feelings about almost any topic in the public’s interest and generate debate without repercussions. For those of us in education, our ideas and feelings must pass through a filter to decide how we will be interpreted by students, parents, administrators, and the community. Recently, this filter has been set at the highest level. Every interesting topic right now has only two sides (in the public opinion arena). If you have opinions one way you are conservative or right wing and if you have opinions the other way you are liberal or left wing. The worst place to be, which I often find myself, is having a “conservative” opinion on one issue and a “liberal” opinion on a different issue and, god forbid, switch positions when you find out more information.
As a teacher I naturally play the role of devil’s advocate because I want to hear people’s rational for what they believe. I want to challenge assumptions and see them defend their positions. Even if I agree. In the current environment of vitriol and closed-mindedness, the simple act of asking tough questions implies that you hold the opposite viewpoint when the reality is that you just want more information. I would never share my views on a public blog regarding gay marriage issues, abortion, race, politics, women’s rights, immigration, climate change, minimum wage, immunizations, etc. I can assure you that some of those topics I would fall on the left, some on the right, and some I go back and forth as I hear new perspectives on the conversation. What prompted me to write this post was a conversation I had with a good friend of mine recently.
It was about 10:00 pm and I received a text that read “Hey, how much research have you done about vaccines?” This was around the time of the measles outbreaks in different parts of the country. We both have small children and we both had differing opinions on the subject. We were able to talk for about an hour sharing information and different sides of the argument. He finally said, “It’s nice to talk to someone about it without anyone getting so upset.” I agreed completely. Perhaps the internet has given people the security they need to voice outrage without an actual confrontation or maybe the loud ones just drown out the level headed people. Either way I encourage everyone, including my students, to question everything including your own point-of-view and disagreeing with someone doesn’t have to mean you hate them or they hate you. It doesn’t imply intelligence or a lack thereof on either side. Civil debate is a powerful tool but is also an art that we all should practice a little more often.