Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are we all too busy?

I went to a meeting tonight where one person lamented the lack of interest in the group. We have a dedicated, passionate core of members, but we believe there are many others out there who are not participating and we don't know why. 

This person told a story: he went to a meeting earlier in the week with three people who would be great members of our group. He encouraged them to come to our meeting. Two had (what he thought of as) legitimate conflicts. One just declined. She works in a school and said, "by 3:15 I'm just tired. I want to go home and spend evenings with my husband and dog. I don't go out in the evening."

This member was clearly disappointed in her choice to stay home. His feeling is that we're all busy, we all have other commitments, and yet we make the time to show up for these meetings and try to make this group work. He is frustrated that others don't. 

Ultimately, I'm pragmatic. We can't make people care about things we wish they would care about. We can't make them prioritize the way we want them to (unless we hold some kind of power over them.) Who knows why this woman feels that way - she's an introvert, she's a morning person, she just doesn't like us. It only matters in so far as we can arrange ourselves to meet her needs - or the needs of others who would participate if we could lower the barriers to participation. 

I think there's a huge parallel here to teaching. We can teach, we can amuse, we can inspire, but we can't make students passionate about our subject if they won't be. Some kids will be captured. Other kids won't. I don't know a teacher who doesn't want to reach ALL their students and have the students see the beauty and magic in the subject that caused the teacher to dedicate his/her life to it. But not all kids will see the beauty and magic of the subject - no matter what the subject is. Good teachers are more inspiring than bad teachers, of course, but even good teachers miss some. Think back - aren't there subjects that you just plain didn't like?

I guess my conclusion is that it reminded me that we have to pull people in - educationally, professionally, and personally. You can't force people to be where you want. You have to convince the unsure and coax the reluctant. In other words, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. (Though someone tell me there's a more appealing cliche than that. Who wants a bunch of flies around??)

1 comment:

  1. So true! You can't get every student to love what you do, but you can ensure that they learn a lot in the process!