Yesterday I shared a post on Facebook that I thought was awesome. Here it is, so you can contemplate it too: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/01/30/share-schools/
The comments I got on it were things like “Wow! Brilliant!” and “This would have changed my life.”
A friend posted exactly the same essay, and here are some of the responses he got, interspersed with comments I made.
COMMENT: Wow, a math teacher that does not understand how game theory works. That is kind of sad.
COMMENT: It should be noted that the premiss [sic] of revenge is that 1+1=0.
ME: Why are you debating game theory? This is about the human heart.
COMMENT: If she’s optimizing to prevent a low probability event, she’s making the same mistake add the TSA.
ME: Summarize in no more than three words what this essay is about. Kids. Loneliness. Ostracism. Help the hurting. Pay attention, gang. The point is zooming by somewhere overhead. The TSA is irrelevant to this.
COMMENT: I think that people who think that by mining a lot of data and then look for correlations they can detect who’s being abusive are…naive at best, dangerous at worst.
ME: I’ll take naive over uncaring any day. A teacher that cares is way more important than the TSA, NSA, and all those TLA* people. I’m leaving now before I say something that will get me banned. [The poster blocks or bans anyone who engages in ad hominem or other abusive attacks.]
COMMENT: This is a single teacher data mining, yes. The NSA at least has some experience in doing it correctly…
Of course, there were other people who responded to what the post was really about, but I was appalled at the number who skipped right past the topic in favor of showing off their erudition instead of compassion.
Admittedly, I’m a professional nitpicker, and I have sometimes been guilty of the same thing – ignoring the content of a post to go after incorrect usage of “literally,” for example. But my God, the relentless refusal to address the topic, even when it was pointed out repeatedly, and not just by me, that they were discussing Something Else Entirely. With rants so long they were essays themselves, and links to articles on the NSA and how to avoid being arrested. (The thread included comments on profiling as well.)
I have been a victim of bullying, etc. So have many of the people who commented when I shared the essay, and when they passed it along. So have many people who tried to get my friend’s comment thread back on topic.
And so, too, I suspect, were at least some of the people who nattered on about statistical analysis and all the other extraneous matters. I cannot imagine them going through school without getting taunted, threatened, or beaten up for being a “smarty-pants,” “brainiac,” or “know-it-all,” or some words less polite. And I suspect that those people are in MASSIVE denial, still trying to build themselves a shield of words and facts and statistics and analysis and theories and showy buzzwords.
I would tell them (if they would listen, which they likely wouldn’t) that this strategy Won’t Work. I know. I’ve tried it. Again and again. And yet again.
What is that definition of mental illness? Oh yes. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
So what’s the point? The topic, as it were? I may be crazy. But by that definition, so are they. And I’m getting treatment for it, not reinforcing myself with a feedback loop. Oops. Did I just get pedantic and jargon-y? I’ll stop now and apologize.
*TLA = Three-Letter Acronym