Friday, April 13, 2018

Insight:The well-mannered swinging pendulum by Lorraine Glowczak

It is no secret that the pendulum of civil discourse has swung to the extreme side of uncouth, offensive and disrespectful – finding it “normal” to blurt out our opinions without much forethought.
I may be reaching here, but I am beginning to see that pendulum moving back to center. I know, I know - It may take a while to fully swing in the direction of good old-fashioned civility and respect, but I believe it will return someday soon. And, I think the youth in our community may be one of the forces that provides the weight, altering its direction. 

At a meeting I attended recently, one individual in the group who is a retired fourth and fifth grade teacher shared something about his students and civility that impressed me. “I always told my students that they could disagree with me and tell me when I am wrong – with facts to back it up, but they must do so in a respectful manner,” the former teacher explained. He went on to state that his students were not only respectful but often spoke with more maturity than their older, more mature counterparts.

It seems to me that many educators in the RSU14 district are continuing in the same manner as this retired teacher. 

I had the opportunity to speak with the Windham Middle School Principal, Drew Patin about the school’s educational approach with Project Based Learning ( In these projects, the students will meet the typical criteria expected in all classroom subjects – which are highly important to future success.

But just as important to success are the other learned skills that contribute to the development of character. The students will be expected to think critically, understand cultures and experiences different than their own and discover ways to make a profound contribution to all of society. It helps to carry these skills in your pocket if you want to have a civil conversation.

If this is a part of students' lives now, can you imagine what they will be like as adults? It is my hope that they carry these skills as they move on into high school and beyond.

I recognize it’s not all perfume and roses out there and I’m not ignoring that there are young folks who participate in less than unacceptable and bullying behaviors. For every truth that exist, the exact opposite is also true. But since I only have a 400-word limit with a deadline, I’m focusing on the good in our students - a fresh approach in dialogue that should not only impress us but make us take note.

As a result, I’m feeling optimistic that the pendulum of understanding and a well-mannered society is returning into our folds. I guess it’s possible I could be wrong – but let’s assume I’m not. I’m afraid the disappointment would make me pout and affect my ability for civil conversation.

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