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Can We Handle the Truth?
We have received many responses to my blog regarding Pennsylvania teacher Natalie Munroe who was suspended from her job for complaining about her students on line. While many of you shared her sentiments, almost all the responses indicated that she should have kept her opinions private. Just this week another public fiasco occurred when National Public Radio fund raiser Ron Schiller was caught on an unauthorized video voicing his displeasure with the Republican party and members of the Tea Party movement. Free speech argument aside, I need to ask the question- what does a person ‘s personal opinion matter to the job they are being paid to do as long as they continue to perform their duties satisfactorily?
In the case of Ms. Munroe, her blog was personal commentary about her job. She voiced frustration and exhaustion regarding the motivational levels of her students. Is it wrong to express an opinion? Have we created a society that shuns the truth because we are so afraid of hurting someone ‘s feelings- or is it because there is a potential lawsuit lurking around every corner? In Mr. Schiller ‘s case, he was under the assumption that he was expressing an opinion in private, and was blindsided with the released video of his comments.
In my classroom, as in my life, I am a truth teller. When I have students in my class who have lousy attendance, no motivation and “the world owes me a living” attitude, I call them on it. I don ‘t dance around the truth asking them to politely change their ways or suggesting that they may want to think about developing a better work ethic. Instead, I make it very clear to them that they are wasting their time and mine. By the time a student gets to high school we should be done with mollycoddling. Part of the reason why people have such a hard time hearing the truth is because it is so rarely told. We cover up how we really feel for fear of not hurting anyone ‘s feelings and for fear of rejection from those who may not want to hear what we have to say. In the old fairy tale “The Emperor ‘s New Clothes” a King was allowed to wander naked around his kingdom because no one had the courage to tell him the truth- except an innocent child. Have we created the same society, and if so, what can we expect to reap from it? How can we ever expect to solve problems unless we begin to truthfully identify them? Or have we become, like Jack Nicholson ‘s famous line, a society that “can ‘t handle the truth”?