“The attitude of “why can’t we all just get along?” has no place in the academic community: validity of arguments come from questioning and the constant, rigorous challenge of debate.”Source: Geoff Cain’s blog entry on Siemens and Downes
In exploring the academic disagreements between George Siemens and Stephen Downes (I regret I found the kerfluffle boring, a sure sign of my roots in practicality or at least, shallow thinking), Geoff makes the point shared at the top of this blog entry.
There’s no reason why debates and disagreements can’t be civil, but I know that the more violent and flowery language that is used, the more interesting reading it is. Consider this excerpt from an engaging piece by Carol Morgan:
Elections have consequences and unfortunately those consequences are leading to the death knell for Texas’ public education system. Texans have thrown away their right to a public education system (which is guaranteed by the Texas Constitution) because they elected fools and charlatans like Dan Patrick, Donna Campbell, and Larry Taylor to the Texas Senate.
These three political prostitutes got where they are today through the love and determination of a teacher and free public schools. How dare they criticize the institution that bestowed the opportunities they enjoy today! They should be thanking teachers rather than criticizing and belittling with the words “godless” and “monstrosity”. Source: Carol Morgan, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Online
Aside from that dramatic open line, I loved the fun implied in the next paragraph about political prostitutes, daring criticisms asserting godlessness among Texas public school teachers. Now, that’s discontent you can sink your teeth into!
Reasonable discourse isn’t necessarily a goal when it comes to politics, which is why it should be kept as far away from education as possible…but facts–like those Carol Morgan cites–can illuminate aspects of the conversation:
- Around 8.2 percent of public school campuses are classified as failing, but nearly 17 percent of charter schools are designated as failing.
- In fact, within three years of being included on the low-performing list, only seven out of approximately 8,500 traditional public schools are still designated as failing.
- If you are mathematically inclined, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all Texas public school campuses are rated IR or AU for more than three years.
I find it a great jumping off spot for revisiting something the authors of Crucial Conversations describe as The Sucker’s Choice.
Either / or choices are Sucker’s Choices. The best at dialogue refuse Sucker’s Choices by setting up new choices. They present themselves with tougher questions that turn the either/or choice into a search for the all-important and ever elusive and.
In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about how to search for the elusive AND. (Source: Refuse the Sucker’s Choice)