Have you ever read a sentence, a paragraph or even just a word that you thought really spoke to you? Well, I found this site today where the words really do speak to you – they beg your indulgence.
A fun way to spend five minutes – or an hour!
The Olympics are probably one of those occasions that some of us love and hate at the same time. Love to hear the human interest stories and to see our national tallies grow, but can’t wait for it to end so that life gets back to normal and our regular television schedule returns!
I have given up watching the event. Why? I seem to have not been sent the memo that said that we were all to change our attitudes and to castigate and criticise anyone who did not win. We, as arm chair experts, apparently, are not to consider a second or third place as worthy of praise.
Indeed, if someone wins a silver medal, we must at all costs restrain ourselves from saying “Well done!”; but rather point out that they failed to get gold. The more seasoned critics point out how, if we had just clipped our pubic hair, or tweezed our nostril hair, we would have gained on our competition. Less than number one is failure.
I feel such a fool, for as a teacher I stupidly urge my students to have a go. Silly me, I stand in front of them and tell them that it doesn’t matter how well they do, as long as they try. Moronically, I also suggest that they try to have fun along the way. If only I had known that I was blowing against the wind, I would have alerted them to one of the truths of modern life: failure is anything less than number one.
Also, failure means public humiliation and the right of anyone and everyone to offer their opinions and criticisms. Failure means that you must not for a moment falter in the stiff upper lip and instantly done your sack cloth as punishment – punishment for not meeting our false expectations, and bringing reality to bear in the form of not everyone being able to finish first.
The memo must have stated that second or third means that you did something wrong; not that you tried your best, but someone else was better on the day. Every action of your last few weeks, months or every minute since the day you were born will need to be dissected by media on a 24 hour news cycle until the become distracted by another victim.
Why devote years of your life to a sport, give up self indulgence and spontaneity for discipline and restraint, when people who never say no to a second helping, and rarely rise from their bed before 7am will freely gut you at the first moment they sniff vulnerability?
No wonder our children are so apathetic. Why try if you can’t be number one, because who wants to be a second placer and therefore a failure? If you don’t try, you can’t fail, so that makes it all right doesn’t it? We can’t disappoint the public and the media if we remain in our place and try nothing new, aspire to nothing and just maintain our allotted status quo, can we? Winning is so important that we need to consider cheating and manipulating for gain that podium position, right?
Risk? Forget it that is for fools.
I am so glad I finally got the message otherwise I would have continued leading children astray by my urging that it is not whether you win or lose it is how you play the game. I have to get a new tee shirt, Win, Win, Win, or we attack.
Australia is introducing a nation wide curriculum for our schools. A nation of only 23 million people it makes perfect sense that our children should all be learning the same subjects at the same stage. In our mobile society it means that students can move from state to state with more ease.
As a teacher I am encouraged to not educate with old models. I try to teach in a way that will reach students who have been born in the 21st century. They have never known a time without mobile phones, laptops, Xboxes and the internet. To use what is in serious danger of becoming a tired cliché, they are indeed digital natives. Their every day life is lived multitasking in a digital online environment. It is natural to them as breathing.
Why then are our politicians continually serving up to their constituents old model politics of conflict and hate? Why is our media so happy to work within this position? I use the word our, because we have a role to play in this, and many of us are abdicating our role.
That role is to communicate to the institutions of our various societies, that we will no longer tolerate this abuse of the power we give them. I am of the opinion that the place to start is with the media. Media magnates the likes of the Murdoch Family (family taking on a new meaning since the accusation of “mafia boss” made against James Murdoch this week), are motivated by money and in particular profits. If we hit those profits, they will listen.
If we don’t buy or subscribe to their biased and conflict ridden media, for example in Australia the very biased Australian or Courier Mail newspapers, then they will soon listen. Falling profits and unhappy investors are what they listen too. I think far too many investors are morally bankrupt. The hysteria in the stock markets is proof that they too are concerned about profits, and easily spooked. It is up to the consumer to spook them.
Send them, the media and their investors, the message that we will no longer tolerate this abuse of our good will. When the media changes its tune, the political whores will follow. If politicians want our attention, and our vote, they will have to play to our rules, and that rule is no bullying, no conflicts. Communicate, negotiate and produce some positive results.
We can’t blame the politicians or the media, if we don’t tell them what we need and what we want. And we want it now, don’t we? It means that we are going to have to communicate, negotiate and produce some positive results too. We can lead by example, model the behaviour that we want, just as a committed teacher does; as an effective parent does. Don’t subscribe to their behaviour, attitudes and values.
Think about, and try it; we might just like it!
Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King Jr.
As I have mentioned previously, my classes have been studying The Crucible. They completed essays under exam conditions and I have now completed marking. Their responses ran the gambit, as most classes do.
One task question involved discussing the fact that Puritan Society reduced everything to black and white, with no shades of grey in between. With the confidence of youth, or maybe just due to lack of critical thinking and analysis, most of the students argued that yes indeed, values and attitudes were reduced to black and white, and there was no allowance for any areas of grey in between. Only two argued for the areas of grey.
Another element that I noticed that I was continuously writing the comment “do not make absolute comments”. No, not everyone thinks that way, behaves that way.
Now, obviously this is an issue that Miller wanted his audience and American society of the 1950s to reflect upon. We needed to learn the lesson.
In today’s society, I fear that we still haven’t learnt the lesson. We still think and act in absolutes and reduce issues to black and white. All Muslims are terrorists. All Greeks oppose austerity measures. Refugees are here to take our jobs. The list is a long one.
Recent events in politics, here in Australia and other countries such as America, have reduced us all to taking sides. For or against; no middle ground. No looking at the areas of grey in between and working there instead of situating ourselves poles apart.
What if we took the words, black and white, for and against, right and wrong from our vocabulary? I could just wave my Flamingo Dancer stick and make then disappear! What if we could only work with the grey areas, with the differentiation and the diversity, and the multitudes of the universe? No conflict, but negotiation. Consensus might break out. Progress!
I know more than a few politicians would be rendered speechless, but few I would suspect would mind. No one thinks that they are really doing anyone a service at the moment, anyway.
We could print tee-shirts with the slogan “working with the shades of grey” or “living in the grey between”! Coffee mugs to take to meetings! And of course I shall be the goddess of this movement! If not I shall take my idea and go home! Release the sticks!
Humour aside, to plagiarise that well know word – imagine.
No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it all too seriously