When challenging the status quo is questioned

Thinking about alternatives, coming up with creative solutions, keeping going despite past failures is what moves man forward.

When I first ran 20 years ago, I was so enamored with a quote from George Bernard Shaw from “Man and Superman” that I put it on all of my campaign literature. I’d not read it in Shaw’s play, but in a Tom Peters book, probably “Thriving on Chaos.” Peters was one of the first best-selling business authors and I had read every book he’d published starting with “In Search of Excellence.”

I’d quoted Tom Peters to the Dayton City Commission many times, while trying to get them to respond to my issues with City Hall over my non-historic garage doors (but that’s another story).

The Shaw quote is: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

I’ve been told a million times in Dayton that what I do in my political runs for office isn’t the way it’s done, that the questions I raise on this site are inappropriate, and “that you catch more bees with honey” and “build bridges, not walls” by my friend and unlikely mentor Captain Bill. I’m constantly questioned over my style instead of my substance, even being criticized for using a command voice that carries when speaking to a large group of people (over and over).

I began The Next Wave because I thought that most of the ad agencies in Dayton specialized in safe. I don’t believe you gain market share or get attention by doing fast, safe, easy (which was actually a tagline that a client settled on, despite my better judgment). Advertising that’s successful and memorable is bold, different, emotional, honest, quirky.

The same goes for life’s lessons, the ones most likely to be remembered are the ones that hurt the most, impressed the most, challenged the most. One day in Special Forces training is equal to the entire basic training experience. There is no comparison.

When I read this article in the New York Times this morning, I immediately thought that this teacher was pushing students to work outside their comfort zone and force them to think deeper than the sanitized dreck of standardized education:

ALBANY — High school is full of hypotheticals, like “How does one solve for x?” and “What happens if I skip class?” But this week, students at Albany High School were given an alarming thought puzzle: How do I convince my teacher that I think Jews are evil?

That question was posed to about 75 students on Monday by an unidentified 10th-grade English teacher as a “persuasive writing” exercise. The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.

“Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion,” the assignment read. “You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”

via Albany Teacher Gives Pro-Nazi Writing Assignment – NYTimes.com.

To me, this is a teacher at their finest. How different is this question than “Write the editorial that supports slavery in pre-civil war America” – or against the rights of women to vote, or for prohibition, or to ban abortions? Or, why we had a right to slaughter the American Indians and take their land. Injustice is a lesson in life we all must face at some time, whether it be a promotion we didn’t get, a relationship that didn’t blossom, a court case that didn’t decide the way we wanted it to, or elections that returned the status quo.

Instead, “The teacher was not in class on Friday and is facing disciplinary action, she said, which could include termination.”

That, to me, is an injustice. I’d like your thoughts.

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13 Responses

  1. Greg Hunter April 13, 2013 / 9:32 am
    Great Premise for getting HS to think in a forced mind set….. Of course too much good from Gods Chosen People to actually pull it off!
  2. Dr. Funkenstein April 13, 2013 / 10:42 am
    That is a great example of everything that is wrong with HS and the liberal arts track in college. Instead of forcing students to think critically and to learn how to analyze an issue from different perspectives they are taught how they are supposed to think. Instead of creative thinking we get slogans like “diversity, tolerance and inclusion” followed with calling people names like “racist, sexist and homophobic” to silence opposing thoughts. This is why I do not understand why someone like you David is associated with the out of control thought and speech-silencing liberals that make their home in the democrat party.
  3. David Esrati April 13, 2013 / 10:49 am

    @Dr. Funkenstein (I’ve warned you about changing names)- I am a democrat, that doesn’t mean I agree with the democratic party. I believe in equal access to education, health care, welfare- social and corporate, elections, the ballot, and I believe that the government shouldn’t tell us who we can love, marry, or decide our reproductive rights. And, I believe in responsible gun ownership. I don’t think filling our jails with dope addicts and dealers solves anything- but I do think if we put a few wall street types in prison we’d be in much better shape.

    But- most of all, I believe we fail to exercise our basic and fundamental right to think, speak and discuss issues in this country- mostly because we’ve allowed money to corrupt the political process. That would be the first step to a truly free and equal society.

  4. truddick April 13, 2013 / 11:28 am
    I’m going to presume that the teacher’s union reps will strongly defend the traditional academic freedoms that are being violated by the thoughtless administrators.  This, citizens, is why we have teachers’ unions.
  5. Dr. Funkenstein April 13, 2013 / 12:40 pm
    David, I am a Republican but that does not mean I agree with Republican party.  I agree with all of your points but you need to include other freedoms like the right to not be forced to join a labor union at work.  The right of citizens to not have union dues being taken out of government employees paychecks to fund the democrat party whose elected officials then negotiate to give them more to keep the funds coming in to the party.  You support the right of a woman to get an abortion, so do I, why do woman and men not have the right to not send their kids to public school and take the money and send them where they want them to go?  How do we have equal access to education and jobs when there is affirmative action for people based on the color of their skin?  Why don’t we put together a list of all of the freedoms both the left and the right want and combine them and make that the platform of a truly freedom based party?
  6. David Esrati April 13, 2013 / 1:52 pm

    @Dr. Funkenstein- there are good and bad things about labor unions. The good is that they provide a way to stop unfair labor practices, provide safe working conditions, and give workers the ability to collectively bargain. The bad- when they take your dues and pour them into politics. We take the money out of politics- and we solve a big problem.
    As to the public/private school debate- we have charter schools now- and we’ve seen that they aren’t doing much better than the public schools in most cases.
    I’m really wondering who made this a two party system in our country- and why? And who came up with allowing the board of elections not to be elected by the public? It’s more important than the county engineer or the coroner.

    I like Mayor Koch’s quote “If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 of my positions, see a psychiatrist. If you agree on 9 out of 12 of my positions, vote for me.”

    Thanks

  7. Greg Hunter April 13, 2013 / 1:58 pm
    Well Dr. Funkenstein the reason we send kids to Public Education is so that a Standard for Society may be applied to learning.   I despise the Education rhetoric because we as a Society never really discussed what was “wrong” about education.  I will say unequivocally that Teachers have been and always were underpaid as compared to Value provided.   While unions end up shielding poor teachers and staff, the rise of unions was not what destroyed or lowered the talent pool for teachers.  
    The major decline in the quality of teachers is directly attributable to rise in opportunities for women.  The unchaining of well educated women from the primary role of teacher to anything possible decimated the quality of the teachers and WE as a Society did not elevate the Pay to keep the Best and Brightest on the Job.
    So Democrats will not tell the current Union Teachers that half are not qualified to Teach and Republicans don’t know enough Scientific Method to Figure it out.  I want higher pay and higher expectations for Johnny and Jane and I should get it as it is MY TAX money being spent on your kid and diluting the Public Education with Bullshit Charter Free Market Crap is frankly a stupid response to an issue that is not addressed.  
     
  8. Dr. Funkenstein April 13, 2013 / 2:59 pm
    At one time there was a need for labor unions, that is no longer true today.  Laws and government agencies provide safe work environments.  The question I had is why does a free person not have the right not to join a union and why do you stand with a party that supports the denial of that freedom?  Alter High School is doing great why should a resident not be allowed to take the money set aside by the government for their kids education and spend it at alter? 
    I agree that the BOE leadership should be an elected position.  As both of us know the current mcboe director would be in prison if he was an elected official.
  9. Dave C. April 14, 2013 / 11:23 am
     Give kids and parents more educational options, and let ALL the $$ follow the student once the choice has been made.
    Yes, we need oversight and regulation of education (just like we need oversight and regulation of food, airplanes, drugs, buildings, and wearing Spandex in public. OK, I made the last one up, but you get the point). 
    Yes, choice in education has increased over the past few decades, but many of the options have been crap (read: some charter schools, DPS, etc.). Not much REAL choice for some, especially lower income people. Let lousy schools (public, private, whatever) go out of business, and let lousy teachers and administrators find a job doing something else. And pay the good ones a lot more.
    More real choice, more real competition, solid regulation and oversight, and the $$ follow the kid.
     
  10. Dave C. April 14, 2013 / 12:38 pm
    The guy in the Washington Post article sounds….well, like he could use an antidepressant. He could us some of your drive, inner direction, and idealism.
    ————-
     
    There really are people out there that value intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, knowledge and skill. Throughout human history, though, these individuals have had to fight the dimwits, slugs, and humps that make up most of the population. The fight is still on and surrender is not an option, even if it is announced via a well written missive. 
    ————-
    Yep, education is not a business. Education is a fight for the future of the human race. And the good guys are outnumbered by the dimwits.
    ————-
    So be it. 
     
  11. joe_momma April 17, 2013 / 1:35 pm
    “This, citizens, is why we have teachers’ unions.” – trrudick
     
    Correction….that was why we USED to have teacher’s unions.  Mostly now they just function to do three things: 1)protect mediocre and poor teachers at the expense of better teachers.  2) Compensate teachers with less valuable skills at the expense those with more valuable skills. 3) Influence elections.

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