Sunday, May 01, 2005

This Is What It's All About: Students, And The People Who Care About Them

A couple of our concerned regular readers have written us emails asking why we seem to go out of our way here at the 'Wonks to encourage the expression of opposing viewpoints. The answer isn't that complicated, really.

It's because the stakes are so high.

Those of us that are charged with the education of our young people feel very strongly about "doing the right thing." Often, they must "step-up" and advocate change. We all want what's best for students.

This quote from Theodore Roosevelt sums up my thoughts on the matter so much better than I, with my poor writing skills, can ever do:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Roosevelt made these remarks in a speech that he gave at Paris' Sorbonne University (April 10, 1910) shortly after leaving the Presidency.

People feel passionately about their positions vis-a-vis education because they feel passionately about doing the right thing for kids.

Whenever a person chooses to write education-related posts or participate in a comment thread at another site, he or she is entering the arena that Roosevelt alluded to so eloquently.

Having said that, I think that it's important that we keep an open mind for differing viewpoints and fresh ideas. I firmly believe that rigidity in beliefs is antithetical to the process of developing successful educational methods and approaches.

It's because the stakes are so high that we should not set our minds against the possibility of change and, from time to time, that we might not have all the answers.

As educators, it's vital that we be open-minded when it comes to educational philosophy.

One of the more pleasing aspects of the EduSphere is the fact that even though we feel strongly about our positions, and engage in lively debate, we don't suffer from the divisive rancor, name-calling, and demagoguery that has become such a hallmark (and detriment) of the Larger Sphere.

Bombthrowers and the bombs they throw, are, thankfully, not a part of the EduSphere. In the world of education, intelligent people should be able to disagree and still remain on friendly terms. We hope that civility remains a pleasant feature of the EduSphere.

People that hold divergent points of view often have more in common than they would think...

So... keep those dissenting opinions, comments, and
Carnival Submissions coming. We will continue to promote, "The Free Exchange of Thoughts And Ideas," by providing a forum for debate and discussion. Dissent (and the dissemination of thought) is the first step necessary in order to actually change minds and implement positive change.

Continue your advocacy for kids. Do the right thing, as you see it.

This post was originally published March 20, 2005. It is reposted on the first of each month, and as circumstances warrant.
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