Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Yesterday we set up to do an abuse prevention class for people with disabilities. As we did so people trickled into the room and took their seats. Joe wrote up the 'ground rules' on the flip chart. One of them was: It's OK to disagree on some things.

A woman, Lynette, sitting at the front, read the rules as Joe wrote them. When she got to that rule, she said, "Some things? I can disagree with anything I want."

I spun round to look at what we'd been teaching for over twenty years.

She was right.

What we wrote implied that there were some thing beyond your right to disagree.

I may have to do things that I disagree with ... anyone who works for anyone doing anything knows that.

Here I was teaching about the right to disagreement to someone who disagreed with my statement about disagreement.

And she was right.

Both Joe and I looked at each other and decided to change it on the spot to 'It's OK to disagree.' Joe put a single, careful, line through the crossed out words so they could still be read. When we got to that part we talked about how Lynette's idea had change what we were teaching. Voice matters. So does a open space where disagreement and discussion are welcome.

Over twenty years doing things and still getting it wrong sometimes. That doesn't bother me. Because, I won't make that mistake again. There's aways room to be wrong, and there's always opportunity for learning.

I learned yesterday.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Cheers for Lynette for speaking up! I think that the fact that she did feel free to speak up tells us volumes about how far we have come. And cheers for you and Joe for listening and learning.

As a teacher, those are my favourite moments - when learning is truly a dialogue and a 2 way street.


Ron Arnold said...

Dialectics are always better than didactics in my book.

I believe it was Eartha Kitt who said her 'diploma' would be her headstone . . . till then, we've got some learnin' to do.

Glad you're of the humble mind to keep that learning going!

Maggie said...

I would have loved to see the look on her face when you changed your presentation because of her comment.

As I think back to all the times various teachers told me they were right and I was wrong because I had the temerity to disagree ... and because they weren't going to actually think about what a student said, they were going to construe student disagreement as rudeness.

Lynette and the other folks you teach are so lucky to have you.