…we make everything that’s uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. “I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up.” That’s it. Just certain.The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort.- Brene Brown
Pain and discomfort are the ground of teaching and learning. So, to hear Brene Brown describe blame as the way to discharge that makes sense to me.
I don’t have to sit in too many meetings or listen to too many people, like the cardiac nurse who hooked me up to the treadmill for a stress test, to know how often blame is heaped on teachers or students. Sometimes both.
Why isn’t (fill in the blank) happening? Teachers.
And teachers will say: students. A few will say: administrators. Others will say: parents. And around and around it goes, the blame cycle picking up speed and creating enormous distance between people.
This graphic is from a post meant for construction contractors, but it elegantly describes what blame does and how it proliferates along its own vector.
Brown outlines, in her brilliant TED talk, a way out of the cycle. One that is initially much more painful and uncomfortable: the courage to be seen for who we really are:
To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”
Image credit: Patrick McManaman/Unsplash