Sunday, April 24, 2011

Judging or Working Together

As a political liberal I'm struggling right now. I made a recent resolution to myself to be less judgmental. Being less judgmental requires that I be more open-minded, something I hope I already am, at least to some extent.

Open-mindedness is a challenge in some areas. Bad drivers drive me nutty. I'm trying to recognize reasons for their driving. Some clothing choices seem insane and I'm working to remember that what others wear matters not one whit to me.

Education, however, is the area that poses the greatest challenge. It is nigh on impossible for me to see another point of view in this arena. Chris Lehman, a man I greatly admire, has a fabulous post about having conversations, real discussions, about education today. His frustration with conservatives' rhetoric on education is clear. I completely agree.

But, how do we have those conversations? If we, folks like Chris and folks like me trying to be less judgmental, attempt to be open-minded but the other side takes a hard line, how do we achieve any meaningful dialogue? It feels like we're continually compromising while the other side gives nothing. As a result we give inch after inch until we've lost a mile. How do we move forward that way?


Sarah said...

I'm not sure. I have really set in stone beliefs about education as well, and I try not to dismiss someone who disagrees with me but it's hard not to do! I guess it's a step in the right direction if we're all trying...

emet said...

Another really interesting post Jen.

The Lehman post was really interesting, but I think he overlooks one key component, the historical perspective. Unfortunately we have created an adversarial labor relationship in many parts of this country with the two primary driving forces being elected officials and teachers unions. For the better part of 30 years the unions (in northern states especially) have gained ground time and time again and traditionally claimed to be the voice for education and, de facto, for children). A tipping point has been reached in many places where people have said that this arrangement has run its course. Unfortunately, it often seems that the only way that wide spread change has been possible (in the face of the entrenched power of unions and politically driven districts) has been because some people have been willing to go to extremes with their rhetoric.

That being said, I try to listen to people I trust and try to question why I think the way I do. I also try to read many viewpoints (I subscribe to both Bridging Differences and Rick Hess Straight Up). I think we often get caught up in the rhetoric when underneath it all, both sides often agree. Uncovering those areas of agreement is where I try to start in my work.