I’m an argumentative person. I don’t mean in daily, everyday, menial things. I don’t argue with cashiers or servers or anything like that. I don’t even mean on a personal level. My husband and I rarely fight, nor do I really argue with friends or family.
I’m argumentative about my passions in life. Education. Friends. Family. Kindness. When those things are questioned, I will stand up to the person challenging me.
Of course, I’ve found that most of this happens on Facebook. I have about zero self control when it comes to calling out bullshit on Facebook. I wish I could take a step back and tell myself it’s not worth my time, but then things eat at me and I have trouble letting it go. The seemingly only way of relieving it is to speak up, then I usually spend a day wishing I said nothing because whatever I did say went in one ear and out the other.
Bottom line: People don’t like to be challenged anymore. No one wants to explain why they feel a certain way or how they came to formulate an opinion.
I see this in the classroom constantly. I tell my kids I don’t want the obvious answer. Think outside of the box. Think deeper. Go further with it. Explain yourself. Tell me where you found the answer. Tell me why you feel the way you feel. Debate. Discuss. Just do more than sit there and fit the status quo.
Inevitably, I get the obvious answer. It’s easier. I expect that from 12 year olds. It’s harder to swallow when it’s grown adults and these are the people raising the generation that will walk through my classroom eventually.
But something I see in the classroom that I very rarely see in real life is a friendly challenge. My kids question me constantly. I don’t get angry, I encourage them. I let them know that I am human. I am not all-knowing. I could be wrong. They so rarely hear that from adults. Am I often wrong? No, I try not to assert a view or fact that I’m not somewhat sure about. But I’ve been challenged and beaten by kids in the past and I high-five them. A lesson that shows it can be productive to question authority in a civil, friendly manner. My ego wasn’t hurt. It wasn’t bruised, because those kids felt confident enough in their knowledge to challenge a teacher and that is pretty badass.
If only adults could take a cue from them…
There are some times I can’t wait to walk out of my building, but being immersed in middle school life every day has also saved me from the drudgery of dealing with those who should know better and I am thankful for that.