Freedom From Consequences?

 I want to share two conversations I had this week that will form the basis for the theme of today’s ​blog postI talked to a teacher who told me that she has noticed a dramatic increase in the intensity of rude behavior coming from kids. She commented that is almost like they either don’t care if they are being rude and disrespectful, or they don’t realize their behavior is rude and disrespectfulThe second conversation was with a veteran Board member. He told me that he has been on the school board for 25 years and the Board president for over 12 years. He said that he had never used the gavel as a Board president until this year…and he has had to use it multiple times in each meeting over the past 8 months. His comment was that “People are just acting rude and believe they can bully us [the board] into doing what they want.”So, two people noticing the same behavior. One from the kids and one from the adults. Hmmm…

I read an interesting article that helped me make sense of the two stories I heard this week. The author’s argument is that people are mistaking “freedom of speech” for the lack of consequences for your speech. In other words, people think they can be rude, impolite, and a bully and not realize any consequences of their remarks. If they get in trouble for their remarks they claim victimhood and state they are being “canceled.” We are going to deal with people who do not believe they should face consequences for their speech and actions…both with learners in our schools, and the community at large. As learner-centered leaders, we lead with compassion, grace, and love. We lead with those attributes but that does not mean we lead with weakness. Pointing out to people in real-time when they are being rude, and helping learners navigate the consequences of their actions and speech will be an important part of what we do in the upcoming school year.We know the effects of the pandemic are just starting to be seen in our schools and society at large. People being isolated and kids being away from the learning environment of school were not good things. We need to reset expectations for how we talk with each other. Learner-centered leaders can lead the reset.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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