Wednesday, May 16, 2012

De-Fence

Nobody likes to be played. While I have a fairly evolved bullshit detector, mostly honed from 33 years as a public school teacher, every now and then I have my doubts. A bit of cognitive dissonance is good for the body and soul now and then, isn't it? If we look at the recent efforts by groups like the Innocence Project to free wrongly tried and accused prison inmates, it's easy to justify erring on the side of doubt. After all, that's the basis of our entire legal system, reasonable doubt. In public education it isn't always so easy. Case in point. Last week I found myself the moderator of a discussion between a student teacher and the Cooperating Teacher (we used to call them Master Teachers) where it was clear that someone wasn't telling the truth, or at least the whole truth. At stake were simple things like not getting lesson plans on time and becoming a bit more pro-active about asking questions. Still, it seemed that each party was experiencing their interactions differently. I tried to defend my guy while not alienating or disrespecting the C.T. In the end it was a band aid at best. The entire situation burst open when a couple of administrators verbally flogged said student teacher mercilessly. Like some, I have been blessed with the empathy gene. I loudly called time out and suggested that the "educators" present act in a more professional way. Even if everything they did and said were accurate, I still saw no reason for attack and humiliation to trump sensitivity and empathy when dealing with a fellow human being. Perhaps I shot my mouth off. Perhaps I ended up defending a person that created his own problems and then passive-aggressively implied that he was the only victim. Perhaps. Still, educators should educate not humiliate. I don't think mocking someone is inspirational either. And yet the nagging doubt. What if I am being played? What if everything that ticked off the aggressive administrators was true? If so, I have another teaching experience coming up. In the end, I'd rather be more sensitive to trust. But I know what pathology looks like. I know that sociopaths don't look like anything but you and me. I know that denial takes many forms and comes in many packages.

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