Ever since I was young, I was accused of being a troublemaker. I questioned authority and was seen as a boat rocker. I never took things at face value and many would have considered me a skeptic. In some cases, I was called an outright jerk…and other colorful names. Now, I always thought these character traits had value and allowed me to be a more reflective and honest person. However, recently I have been told that maybe I need to stop doing that. I have been told that I do cause trouble, and when I question and challenge things it’s not good or productive.
When I say that maybe we don’t need principals or need to look at that role differently, people get upset. When I question if the flipped classroom is an instructional model we should value, I ruffle some feathers. When I share my beliefs about homework and how I think students should learn, I get raised eyebrows. When I share honest opinions and observations that I have as a teacher in a public school, I have people that are frustrated with me and my honesty. Recently, I was told that if I would just conform and go with the flow, I would be much happier.
The problem is…I can’t do that. I’m not even sure I know how to do that. When I see something that in my opinion is wrong, I’m going to say something about it. When I see there might be a better way to do something, I’m going to speak up. On top of that, I ask a lot of questions to hopefully cause some thinking and in some cases to challenge conventional so-called “wisdom.” I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when there are things that are just not “right” for kids and learning in our schools. My sense of right is not the same as others, but I at least welcome the conversation and discourse.
I really think that far too many teachers conform, go with the flow and take just about everything at face value. They don’t challenge things. They don’t question things. They don’t stand up for what they know is right for the profession and for the students they teach. As a result of this, they’re taken advantage of and in the end it is the kids that suffer. I just can’t help but think of the positives that could come about if more teachers would stand up and question the status quo. Just think of what kind of educational system we could have if we had teachers advocate for themselves and for their students without fear of repercussions. We teach our students to self-advocate and raise questions, but are we modeling that in our own lives and careers?
Yes, some people don’t like me. Some people think I’m a jerk or that I cause trouble or that I speak my mind a little too freely. That is probably true. There are probably times I should keep my mouth shut and just go with the flow and toe the line. However, I just can’t help but think that if I do that nobody’s going to step up. Nobody’s going to speak out and we’re going to keep doing things the way we’ve always been doing them. I challenge you to stand up to speak out, be a troublemaker, rock the boat and challenge things. Even if things don’t change, I can hope people will start talking and writing if for no other reason than to react to me. I hope people will start reflecting and looking at things in a different manner. At the end of the day I just want people to think. Thinking and conversing is how change will be possible…