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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When People Challenge My Words and Ideas

As I continue to debate, converse, and talk about ideas in person and online, I listen for challenge.

When I am challenged, I say the following to myself:

"I don't know it all, and I want to think deeply about this challenge. What more can I learn? How can I change? Can I do this better? Do I need to rethink my core values, beliefs, and understanding?"

Today on #edchat we talked about the comment, Don't complain unless you have a solution in mind.

Some contested that remark with the thought, that if we say that to those who face trouble or see room for change, we may silence rather than work for positive change.

Those comments helped me to see this in a new light.

While I had a positive experience with the need to couple complaint with solution as a young child in my home, the commenters helped me to see that it isn't always positive and in fact, that comment can limit equity, voice, and positive change.

It's not always easy to find common ground and to understand others, but if we move forward with respect, the knowledge that no one knows it all, and that you are capable of learning, revising, and getting closer, you'll do well.

Sometimes my words are met with angry responses. The commenters react with the thought, "I can't believe you are saying that--don't you understand!"

When I question more, the anger grows. The commenters can't believe I don't understand. On the other hand, I can't believe that they can't believe I don't understand. An impasse occurs.

When this happens online, I typically bow out politely and think more on it in time. I may even revisit the commenter later to gain more clarity, or I may wait it out hoping that moment of revelation and understanding will occur.

When this happens in real time, I'm patient. I know in time, if both people have similar good intentions, we'll find common ground.

I used to be that person who quickly angered when people didn't understand. I couldn't believe they couldn't see it from my point of view or experience, but now I know--it's not always easy to see from the point of view or experience of another, and that kind of common ground takes time, persistence, respect, and care.

What do you do when you're challenged? How do you react? What leads you forward to greater understanding and respect?

These are all important questions and considerations as will build our own knowledge and work to help students develop greater knowledge and skill too.