Sunday, March 9, 2008

Transcending the Debate

I've had a very scattered day and one of the things I've been doing is going through and deleting old blog posts from my reader. But of course I get sucked into reading them along the way, so it takes forever. But fun! This is why I have trouble sorting books or looking up words in a dictionary.

While perusing the archives, I found Jane's post about transcending the debate.

There are so many places this rings true in my life. I got into a conversation with a coworker on Friday afternoon about whether our faculty should be encouraged to have websites, forced to have websites, or left well enough alone. I think that at least they should be encouraged, but feel un-ready for the fight. Various among them will demand extra help, handholding, rules, no rules, and that I do a bunch of un-related tasks. (Our "internal web page" is a huge mess, which is nominally my responsibility, but also not needed since every teacher has a direct URL to their web space.) The coworker pointed out that I need to just tell them to be quiet and make a web page already, not get caught up in debating my own weaknesses where those weaknesses are not relevant.

Engaging with the faculty and staff about things they must do, even when I myself am not perfect, is a good place to start. I hesitate to lead, because I fear that they will point out all my weaknesses. Which is likely, really, but I need to stop worrying about it and just get out there.

For me, transcending the debate can also be the debate about teaching - curriculum, content, pedagogy. Every teacher needs to do what works best for them and what is best for kids. I think there are important ideas which all citizens should know about computing. I'm not sure what they are, but getting mired in the debate about whether Java is the best language for the AP or whether Alice's interface is too clunky isn't helping us discuss the important ideas. Don't get me wrong, I love a good debate, but as a discipline, we need to really focus on what is important.

Maybe the most important thing is assuming both intelligence and goodwill in others. This isn't a debate point, precisely, but I think we engage in the debate (any debate) and start thinking I'm right, s/he's wrong. Which isn't helpful - it means we're closed to hearing good ideas.

Now I should get focused and do some grading.

1 comment:

  1. You know, it's funny, but I think we spend way more time beating ourselves up over our (perceived and real) weaknesses than anyone else spends thinking about them. There's a great chance that no one will bring up your weaknesses....yet that's where your mental energy is focused. (I do the same thing, all the damn time.) Just think of all we could accomplish if we could silence our inner critic! :)