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Cross-posted from Hynessight.

Politics, Colleagues and Friends

It is so easy, isn't it?  The elections looming in the next few weeks and posts go up on Facebook declaring your political bent.  In the coming weeks, they will be more frequent and strident.  The Primary Teachers Facebook Group administrators were forced to draw a line in the sand recently and suggested one post per member on the political scene.  Teachers were getting too aggressive in their stances.

I must admit to having one friend on Facebook unfriend me because I posted too much on Donald Trump and how ridiculous the man is.  I guess the friend wanted to live in an echo chamber where only his views were visible. But I, too, have been tempted to do the same as the elections loom.  I cannot believe some of the "stupid" posts that people put up about their preferred party or politician.  I have come close to hitting the unfriend button several times but stop myself by thinking about internet guru, Howard Rheingold, and his assertion that we need to learn to be critical consumers to survive online. To do that we have to ensure we do not surround ourselves with like-minded opinion online.

How do friends view the world so differently?  I guess we are all brought up in different ways and experience different things in our lives and work.  We make judgments based on the ladder of inference.  Our action (voting and expressing our political bent) will be based on the reality that we select, the assumptions we make, and the beliefs we have developed.

Teachers are taught to question their beliefs, assumptions and try to look at unselected data about their learners when they start out on a teaching as inquiry cycle.  It is difficult to do by yourself, and this is where a critical friend comes in handy.  Not an uncritical friend.  Someone who agrees with everything you say and constantly affirms you and supports you is not a good critical friend.  An excellent critical friend is often one who challenges his/her own beliefs constantly.   A good critical friend will challenge you even when they do not necessarily believe that the challenge is correct. 

So my promise is not to unfriend or even unfollow friends who have a different political bent to mine, no matter how angry I become at their stupidity.  Of course, the challenge is to resist responding in anger. That will lead to them unfriending me. And then I will have another echo chamber.

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Comment by Hazel Owen on September 21, 2017 at 22:17

It's a fascinating subject, Leigh. That whole notion of being open to a wide range of ideas and opinions, even when they are diametrically opposed to one's own, is tricky. Also, as you and I have discussed on several occasions, there are times when someone else's opinion is so at odds with your own values and ethics, that it becomes necessary to withdraw from, or close down, the conversation.

So, for me I guess the skill is to remain as open as possible, and really ponder other points of view, so that when I become aware of my own implicit biases I can go through the (sometimes uncomfortable) process of unpacking my beliefs...and, where needed, revisiting my values.

It will be really interesting to see what the results are this weekend...!!

As an aside, John has reflected on a similar topic, but when he was faced with feedback that was unexpected and difficult to receive. You might enjoy his post :)

You can also take these Implicit Association Tests (IAT) (something I heard about on this Invisibilia podcast episode) to help you identify implicit biases. I've done a couple and the feedback is really interesting.

Thanks as always for sharing :)

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