A friend and colleague of mine sent me a video compilation of dogs, cats and other animals feeling the love with each other or their humans. I couldn't quite get the exact link to that one but I found a similar MUST SEE VIDEO. With all the controversy, strife and dissension going on in the world, I thought to myself, "Why can an iguana and a dog (the most unlikely pair, truly) get along and we humans can't seem to figure it out?"
Teachers are striking all over the United States, and living in Tucson, AZ, I'm seeing it firsthand. Whether you believe teachers already make enough money (what??) and shouldn't be striking, or you believe that standing on the side of the road as thousands of motorists drive by honking their support at the teachers (or not), there seems to continue to be such divisiveness in the country and of course around the world.
I pray on a daily basis for God to direct me to do what I can to be of maximum service to Him and to the people I come across, and it hurts my heart to see people not be able to settle their differences in a respectful manner.
I teach master's and doctoral level courses for Grand Canyon University and for Walden University. I just started teaching an online School Finance and Budgeting course for Grand Canyon this past week. One of my first announcements was for them to act like the two hugging dogs in the video. ( Just kidding. I didn't have them watch that video, but I might). I did, however, give them guidelines for how I expect they will talk with one another in the Discussion posts they are required to make each week.
Yes, it is true that most of the problems I see with online courses is the total opposite of the problem posed in my blog. In online classes, I see people post things like, "I agree with David. He made a great point." Okay, great, I want to say, but what part did you agree with? How does what he said relate to your own experience in your school? And for the love of all things Holy, can we please feel okay about disagreeing in an online environment? I just ask that we do it with respect and rapport. How do we do it?
1. Acknowledge the person's point of view to ensure you actually get the gist of what they are saying "I think I understand that you believe...."
2. Use words that are not filled with "attack mode" (just in case a gila monster and a kitten get into the next video, we'll be ready) but instead say exactly what parts don't mesh with what you have read or believe (i.e. "I think I understand that you believe....; I read in our text that ...... and I find in my school that....., so I may have a bit of a different take....")
3. At the end of the day, if we are all in a learning community together (and doesn't that really include everybody in the world?), let's acknowledge that agreeing to disagree may be the best we can do.
I have a dear friend from Florida who used to say that, when he would get into a heated conversation with someone about something about which he felt such vehemence he had to defend his position to the death, he would not back down. He felt it showed weakness (have you seen a lion back down from a mouse? It just typically wouldn't happen, right?). Over a period of working on himself in a group of other people who were also working on themselves (maybe like a 12-step group, perhaps), he learned the most important words that changed his life forever.
When in a heated argument with his wife, co-worker, partner, friend about political, religious, or any other electrically charged topic, he would simply put up his hands and say, " You know, you might be right about that." What??? You might be right about that?? What if you know the other person is dead wrong? The issue becomes: even if you believe you are right, arguing about it is not likely going to change the person's mind.
Instead, what he did with his statement (that I am still working on using) is discharge the electrical current between them. Who can argue with a statement like that?
In the meantime, I think I am going to go hug on some kittens and puppies and not argue with anyone about anything.