I’m thinking of so many public attacks on so many contributors to this community – adult and young adult – recently, in which the victims of the attacks did nothing to provoke those who attacked them. I’m not going to link to any of them, because I don’t want to give them publicity. I just want to try to articulate some things keeping me from sleeping tonight. And since I do want to try to sleep again, I think I’ll condense them into a list:
1. Stats and rankings seem increasingly insidious to me. The more we value them, the more prone we are to follow the path of Fox News in a race to the bottom, for the sake of pushing our stats to the top. Dylan said it well in “Idiot Wind”:
Now everything’s a little upside down
As a matter of fact, the wheels have stopped.
What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good,
You’ll find out when you reach the top
You’re on the bottom.
(–On a personal note, I’ll share that the unexpected and completely surprising rise of this blog’s readership over the past few months has tempted me more than once to publish posts that now embarrass me. I wanted more “fame,” which is a ridiculously overblown term for such a small niche in the web. I’m going to keep my Technorati widget, because the connectivity it provides is good; but I’m going to remove the reactions rating.)
2. To insist that we know better than others because we’re “trained professionals” is dangerous. Lobotomists used that argument in the ’50s and ’60s, and blood-letters before them. Readers of Pink’s A Whole New Mind, regardless of their views of the book, may remember reading that today’s physicians are being trained, as “professionals,” to learn how to listen to their patients. The web has made it possible for us to listen to our own customers – students – in a manner unparalleled in history. To insist we’re professionals, with drop-out rates soaring and basic educational knowledge and skills plummeting, is a flimsy argument against listening to students who care enough to add their voices.
3. Speaking of physicians, these lines from the Hippocratic Oath seem applicable to educators – sheesh, to people generally – as well as to doctors:
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts. . . .
In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction. . . .
All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.
4. We can talk about controversial ideas without mentioning individuals.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Here’s to diplomacy and openness.