I've been slowly putting together a series of posts for this blog called "Beyond the Rhetoric". They were initially going to be the introductory posts for the blog, until I exploded my pen in the Promethean workshop and, well....read the previous post if you want the whole ugly story. This post wasn't even going to be part of the series until I read Dan Brown's post "After the Save Our Schools Blown Opportunity, Where Do Progressive Educators Go From Here?" Family commitments kept me from attending the SOS march, and quite honestly, I do not usually participate in highly organized productions such as this because they seem to me to be machines of rhetoric rather than vehicles capable of meaningful change. Yes, most of the message is good, but what do they really accomplish?
When you have two opposing sides with opposing positions, and both sides continue to publicly build the walls of rhetoric ever higher, ever louder, the only thing accomplished is further isolation and the promise that no change will come. This premise was clearly illustrated by the fact that SOS march organizers turned down an invitation to meet with President Obama's Education advisors before the march. They chose rhetoric over conversation and potential compromise. What did they really accomplish? Is the situation any better for students as a result of this march? Isn't that what this is supposed to be about?
On a smaller scale. When we complain to and with our colleagues about various situations in our departments, in our buildings, in our districts, we create our own rhetoric. It can grow, and bring down morale. My challenge to you is to choose one area of your professional life that you are prone to complain about, and be proactive -- that may mean changing something on your own, working with colleagues to make a change, meeting with admin or union leaders, but make a change. One small change can change your outlook, raise your morale, and lead to bigger things.