What things do you know for absolutely certainty? Many will say "Death and taxes". No fair. Overused. How about your faith in a Higher Power? I have a strong faith in a Higher Power (I choose to call Him God). But if you ask me what He looks like, what Heaven will be like, I am pretty certain I am uncertain. The times I have gotten in the most trouble is when I KNEW my viewpoint was right and the only one anyone should consider. By the way, if anyone reading this has a nice way to distract Dave (my husband of 25 years) from reading this, I will pay you in Labrador Retriever hair (sorry, but it's the only thing I have loads of, on hand). You see, I want to be right. I want to know that I am right so I can be looked up to as the person who has the "right" answer.
The problem with this attitude, however, is that the longer I live, the more I realize that the more I think my way is the highway, I am only limiting myself. Our priest suggested we actually place ourselves in a box when we think we are the only ones with the correct answer. Naysayers may be already saying, "But, Shelly, we know 10 X 10 = 100." Yes, you are correct! All of us who believe this multiplication fact are correct. But....is there only one way to get to that answer? Many of us of a certain age were trained (and yes, I mean to use that word) to simply memorize those facts. We knew them as facts. But, years later, we see the value in understanding how and why multiplication works so we can apply the concept to even harder problems, ones that stretch us. And wowee! is it not a trip to be in the classroom of a teacher who is allowing students to teach each other the ways they came up with an answer to a problem. What I see in those classrooms are some holdouts----some kids who believe (and I don't know for certain, but I am certainly guessing strongly that their parents told them this) that it doesn't matter HOW you get an answer, as long as you are RIGHT.
The longer I live, the more I want to go back to school. (Once again, ix-nay on the ave-Day.) Dave has made me promise I won't ask to go back for another doctorate, and I likely won't...but it sure doesn't keep me from thinking about learning more and more and more....maybe taking some classes on things I didn't REALLY learn in school.
When I hear political discussions (is "conversation" a misnomer or what??), lately, all I can think is that we have so polarized ourselves, we can't see the forest for the trees. My tree is the only one that belongs in the forest. But what about everyone else who has a vested interest in another tree in the forest? Yes, I have pretty firm foundations on some things I believe, and they come in stark contrast with some of the pretty firm foundations of some of my friends' and families' beliefs. But, I will admit (as much as I hate to admit this) that the more I open my mind, the more I grow.
When working with a group of school leaders earlier this month, one of them asked me a question about building trust in schools. Well, now, don't get me started on that topic, because that is my baby. I spent three years doing my doctorate with a serious emphasis on teacher trust in principals. Corwin Press published my book called Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations that continued the conversation that my dissertation started. When the administrator asked if I thought it was possible to build trust in a school where trust had been lost, especially in light of the tremendous pressure that has (and still is, in many places) been placed on teacher evaluations. I realized that his question made me think, long after I had left their school district site. I ended up writing an email, explaining some ways I think it is possible to restore trust in a formerly distrustful environment. But do I know for sure?
Here is what I know for sure----nothing. Just kidding. I know a few things, I think. One of them is that my own wisdom lies in asking questions of others and actually listening to what they have to say. Saying I have all the answers is not simply a falsehood but a recipe for distrust, because most people realize that simply cannot be true.
For today, I am going to focus on reminding all of you to not tell Dave I am not always right (kind of kidding), but also to focus on continuing to ask questions of people with whom I might not agree. I may learn something new and they may, too.
In the meantime, happy communicating to all!!!