Tuesday, September 19, 2006

boring and past it or young and silly?

When does one know that you're 'boring' or 'past it' (or both)? Is this a realisation one should come to oneself or something we each need to be pushed towards? Is it 'unprofessional' or discourteous to use these words generally about a group of people, or in reference to people specifically? Are professional relationships most effectively based on honesty and critical openess or something else? Is is possible to completely divorce professional practice from personal attritubes? Is blog crap talk the same as in-the-light-of-day-reasoned talk? Whose opinion really matters when we're talking about education, schooling, young people and ... well, adults?

Now in the teaching game, things can get interesting when words such as boring and past it come up. I have been called 'boring' many times by many people, sometimes with certain cause. Not sure it's damaged me though. I still carry on being boring old me. In some peeps eyes I've been 'past it' for some time. The very fact I just used the word 'peeps' will testify of this fact to those younger and hipper than I. I am a noob, a nerdburger, perhaps even a noobasaures rex ...

But do I care? We'll maybe a bit, but not really. Why? Well because I'm not boring of course! And I'm not past it, not by a long shot lol

Am I silly? Well, now that is another question altogether. There are plenty of people who think so. I know becauase they've told me so. I can accept this (I think).

I spoke to someone on the phone today who was upset (this may be an understatment) that I had used the words 'boring' and 'past it' in relation to some work of theirs. At the time I made the comment (on a blog of a colleague) I didn't have this person in mind, or any of those involved in particular, and I was speaking more generally and to my colleague. I was responding to some pretty raw stuff they had said. I felt I needed to show I understood where they were coming from, because I feel like I do understand where they are coming from. I'm not trying to equivocate here, but I'm not in the game of delibrately offending people - that is the last thing that was on my mind.

However, I was trying to make a point, and that point was and still is important and I stand by it. It was a wider point about the importance of critically reflective practice. There are two angles here: one is that I was trying to push my colleague to think about their role in the problem and what they might contribute to 'making a difference' (thanks RC) rather than moaning about it; the other was about the importance of organisations taking a similar critical approach about the work that they do, not being too wrapped up in their own concerns and too precious, not being too self-congratulatory about their work and willing to accept the hard questions and DIFFERENT views about 'sacred' and time honoured things. I believe this is where good organisational culture stems from, and not from believing that everything is peachy or even that the job is being done half-decently.

I'm happy to take the heat on something like this, because I see the problem as part mine. But it's not all mine. I'm willing to shoulder my share of the responsibility and to grow a thick skin while doing it, and I hope that others can do the same (and know that many do).

I know that I'm talking in generalities and that can be confusing and frustrating, and I'm sure this post will bring upon me more claims of silliness, or of 'he's just young and rude' etc etc. But this too is a position that deserves some interrogration. Professional relationships break down under tired (ie boring and past it) generational exclusionary tactics that position younger people as less experienced and their (rude and inconsiderate) views as less important.

It's funny how the words 'boring' or 'past it' might be subbed for others like 'young' and 'upstart' and 'lacking experience'. The outcome can be similar.

I can be all of these in one day.

Now that is talent

5 Comments:

At 7:57 am, Blogger Joolz said...

Oh I so hate those misunderstood moments. Makes you feel really twisted up inside.
Funnily enough I thought I had clicked onto my brother's blog and only noticed I was on yours when I got to the end of the post!! Really funny as all through I was thinking .... 'ah yes, typical David!' (Especially as my kids have always called him 'Silly Uncle David'. Just goes to show we are all all of those things and that we are all talented - even the boring past it person you spoke to today!!

I recommend you have a whiskey and forget it. Life's too short!

 
At 8:29 am, Blogger Scott said...

Thanks DJ. Wouldn't normally write something like this, but s'all good.

David

 
At 5:32 am, Blogger A.R. Linder said...

Lawdy, Lawdy. You just made me want to tie a noose and jump. This blog reminded me of one of those moments when I was going, is it because I'm a woman, is it the color of my skin, is it my southern drawl, was I too blunt... At the end of the day, its all in a days work and I don't know the answer to any of those questions because I've just been being me and, aha, maybe that's the deal.

 
At 8:51 am, Blogger Scott said...

Yes, thanks AR. At the end of the day, it is 'all in a days work'. But don't jump. We need you. I won't either. lol

 
At 7:33 am, Anonymous Howie said...

I think that sometimes experienced colleagues (ie at least the energetic and open minded amongst them) are perhaps too easy on the 'young', too easily impressed by and not critical enough of them. There's a sense, perhaps,of over-generosity and therefore lowered expectations. There's two impulses here, it seems to me: 1. a generosity in sense of wanting to pass on the baton and 2. a desire to be of the moment; to keep up with new trends.

Often the older generation seem unwilling to acknowledge how much those who have followed owe them (in the way you cite RW Connell, for example).

Anyway, that's been my experience. Not sure how much longer I can trade on my baby face, however,

 

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