You better be happy or else

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Aussie Willy, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    A university here in Melbourne has introduced a policy that demands academics promote positivity and show passion at work.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/e...aving-to-be-happy-at-work-20120326-1vuob.html

    Although I did like this quote from the article:

     
  2. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    My last principal was obsessed with everyone being positive. This included not pointing out problems going on in the school. For example, saying that the online gradebook system consistently timed out when teachers attempted to save a set of assignment grades meaning we often had to enter them multiple times before we were able to save them in the system was negative. We were not allowed to talk about that. He actually told us that by talking about it (as we requested that the tech department find out why so it would actually work) we were causing it to continue because "problems are fed by negative words".

    As for how this affects teaching? He was in my classroom one day when my senior lit students and I were discussing Macbeth's "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy. I was later reprimanded because the speech is "negative" and I did not tell the students that Macbeth should not speak "negative words" and should actually not teach the speech at all even though the play is part of the curriculum.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  3. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    :rofl:
     
  4. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    That's downright Orwellian. (Though you probably weren't supposed to teach Orwell either.)
     
  5. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Well, look where those negative words got him! If he had been more upbeat- the play may have ended differently!
     
  6. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Sure. Because just saying some happy stuff at that point, with the armies coming for him would have changed everything!

    This stuff is damaging on so many levels. It is a blame the victim ideology--you are just tired, stressed, ill, dying, unhappy, clinically depressed, abused by your spouse (this principal's positive thinking guru actually explains that the negativity in her thoughts caused her ex-spouse to abuse her and she realized at a woman's shelter that it was all her fault--fortunately for her kids, this did not lead her to go back to him), unemployed, etc...it is all because you are not thinking positive thoughts and acting happy. Grief--which is part of what is going on in Macbeth's soliloquy as he just learned of his wife's death--is just negativity and should not be acknowledged.

    It is not an emotionally healthy way to live.
     
  7. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    And remember, not saying negative thoughts will make the magic pixies in the computer fix the grading software faster! I mean, really that's more disturbing than arguing about teaching Macbeth--so, complaining about an OBJECTIVE TECHNICAL ISSUE is 'negative speech'? If my car's brakes are sticky should I not bring that up with a mechanic because that's negative thinking and therefore contributing to the problem?

    There is SOME merit to the argument that a positive outlook will improve your mental state and performance. Not ignoring bad things, but opting to focus on the good rather than dwelling on the bad. But that does not extend to ignoring physical technical malfunctions! How insane do you have to be to think that complaining about a flaw in a software product the affects how you do your job is 'negative' and contributing to the problem? That's not a question of not feeling chipper enough, it's SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING. By that logic, you shouldn't call tech support for anything ever.
     
  8. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    It was a great outlet for this principal to NEVER have to deal with a problem. He was able to lock himself in his office and play Madden Football. Literally. And when a custodian told a few people that's what he was doing, he was fired within two days.

    Yes, it was a pain in the ass that things not working could not be fixed because no one was allowed to bring those problems up.

    But as an educator, I was more disturbed at the messages being sent to kids about how we understand life. At a school assembly, they were told that if they felt picked on, they needed to look at their own attitude about the person or group picking on them. If they were feeling negatively about those people, it was their thoughts that caused the bullying. Not the bullies. I was told that I should have told my students that Macbeth addressing his grief over his wife at all (literally the moment after he was told she was dead) was "dwelling on negativity". The positive thinking guru was brought in to do workshops with the staff twice, the senior class and the football team. Football players were convinced by her that if they believed they would win a state title, that was all it would require. They were beat in an early round of playoffs and devastated. More devastated than teams prior who were upset in title games because they had been convinced by her and the principal (who was the head coach) that thinking it and "truly wanting" it was a guarantee.

    Life does not work that way. I wanted to ask the positive thinking woman what top athlete goes to the Olympics firmly believing and telling people (because telling people is part of her formula) that they are going to fail. Or wanting to fail. Because she used athletes over and over again as an example of how wanting something will make it happen. Who really thinks Kwan wanted to miss that jump in SLC or that Browning wanted to walk away with not a single Olympic medal? Does she really believe that athletes enter the rink or the court or the field hoping to fail? If wanting to win the Master's or the World Series or an Olympic Gold Medal was enough, we would have to give out a lot of green jackets, trophies and medals each time.
     
  9. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    That is truly worrisome.
     
  10. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    But it is the logical conclusion of all the positive thinking teaching. If your thoughts determine what happens to you...and so many of the people preaching positive thinking as an ideology teach that they do.

    There is nothing wrong with having a good attitude about life. But the notion that doing so will make everything and everyone around you perfect is dangerous. As is the idea that we cannot address or deal with the negative things in the world.

    My father is currently, with all his might, refusing to grieve for his younger sister who was killed in a car accident in January. He believes that he doesn't have to and it wouldn't be manly. Trust me, you don't want to even walk by him right now. Because avoiding his negative feelings is not making him happy, it is making him angry and horrible to be around. He's doing it out of misguided notions that real men don't grieve, not that he should be positive. But the end result of burying negative feelings and experiences is the same.
     
  11. modern_muslimah

    modern_muslimah Thinking of witty user title and coming up blank

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    Hear, hear! I am so sick of the positive thinking movement. It really isn't natural to be happy all the time and sadness serves just as much a purpose as happiness. Plus, I think the effort that some people make into being happy all the time just ends up making them more depressed.

    :rofl: at your principal for thinking Shakespeare was too negative.
     
  12. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    As funny as it is, I recently learned that the Bard has been completely scrubbed from their curriculum. Also removed for negativity: The Great Gatsby, My Antonia, Of Mice and Men, The Things We Carried, A Raisin in the Sun, and more.
     
  13. modern_muslimah

    modern_muslimah Thinking of witty user title and coming up blank

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    *smh* That dude has some serious issues.
     
  14. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    So, if anything "negative"/bad happens; one brought it on themselves?
    A ridiculous; and potentially dangerous idea.
     
  15. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    He does. He doesn't have a very happy life. And he is looking for easy answers. When it was finally accounted for, it came out that he spent over $20,000 on the positive thinking/motivational/life coach woman in three school semesters. At a private school struggling to make ends meet. Somehow, that unauthorized budget-busting spending did not result in his dismissal. Likely because they have a singular priority which is winning sports teams and he is a winning football coach.

    He seems to truly believe that pedaling these ideas is going to set the students up for a fantastic trouble-free life. When a student was killed in a car accident last year, he told the local newspaper that it was an opportunity for the students to realize the power of learning to focus on the good things over the bad. IMHO, that is a horrible message for teenagers grieving the sudden death of a classmate.

    Not shockingly, their enrollment has been tanking.

    I know this might seem off-topic from the original post. But I don't think it is. Forced positivity has all kinds of scary consequences.
     
  16. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly what I find dangerous about the "positive-thinking" mentality too. And I'm a sickeningly persistent optimist. :shuffle:

    I believe that if people are treating you badly, you can choose to do a lot of things. You could talk to them, talk to someone who could help, leave the situation, etc. Sitting there and taking it silently trying to put a positive spin on it isn't going to improve the situation. So my optimism isn't so much positive-thinking as it is empowerment. If there is something you don't like, you can do something about it.

    And sometimes there isn't a thing you can do, and the only way to handle it emotionally is to bear it and trust that time will do its job. Tomorrow's another day.

    Sometimes crappy things happen to good people and I find it very disingenuous (and yes, dangerous) to just tell them it's their fault that the crappy things are happening to them. :(

    Also, sometimes I put on sad music or a sad movie just to feel sad. :eek: It's good to feel those emotions in a controllable setting.
     
  17. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Having sat through two six hour workshops with this particular positive thinking guru, I can tell you there was nothing empowering about what she was teaching. She specifically and frequently emphasized that you aren't supposed to do anything to achieve a dream or goal or improve your situation. You are just supposed to think/believe/want it. If you do something, you aren't trusting the system and will not get what you want.

    The senior class had to spend an entire school day being coached by her. They had to make posters of their dreams/life goals and then were told to just believe/think/want what was on the poster and it would happen and that working for it would derail it. A few discerning and brave kids said that you can't achieve most goals without working and planning. One who wanted to be a medical doctor asked me why she was supposed to believe that she could become one without working through undergrad to get into medical school and working hard through medical school.

    This woman makes a lot of money. And she has managed to slink into schools all over our region running these workshops for staff and students and even "training" teachers in her "system". This principal discovered her when she spoke at a state coaches' clinic. She also does workshops and speaking for corporations all over the country and hawks books and CDs to teach her "system". I know public school teachers elsewhere in the state who have had to sit through her spiel multiple times as well.
     
  18. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Ouch. There are studies that show that students who both work hard and believe in their work do better, but I've never seen anything that says that wishing makes it so.
     
  19. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    And people really believe that shit? :scream:

    Yeah, those kids in Asia do well in school because they believe they will do well in school. It doesn't have anything to do with the fact they study day and night. :shuffle:

    From the mouths of babes! :lol: They were raised right by their parents.
     
  20. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    You have to admit is pleasant smelling shit. The thought that all good things could come to you without you lifting a finger is pretty appealing on its surface.

    I found it interesting that in every example she gave of how this works, she was ignoring the person's hard work or someone else's hard work or how someone was hurt in the process.

    Tiger Woods was her favorite athletic example. (This was just a few months prior to his scandal breaking). She completely ignored that he started golfing at age three and worked hard at it every single day of his life. It was all about some quote (which I never verified as authentic) about believing he can win, thus he won.

    Her personal examples were easy to see that someone else was doing the work--believing she would be able to afford to join a church group's trip to Europe happening without worrying about how she would pay for it (presumably before she got rich selling quack ideas). That story made it very clear that other people in the group worked hard at raising funds so everyone could go. Or her favorite personal example about how she always gets free food in fast food drive-throughs because she believes her food will be free. Then the order gets screwed up and when she complains, they don't charge her. I was instantly turned off by that as some poor fast food worker making minimum wage likely has his/her pay docked over it. And a colleague pointed out that that one could be a self-fulfilling prophecy--that she mumbles or gives a complicated order to make it happen. Or that she just lies about it being wrong. Either way, someone else is hurt for her "belief" in free fast food.
     
  21. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Wooooooooow....:yikes:
     
  22. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like she's been reading too much of The Secret. :rolleyes::scream:
     
  23. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    PDilemma - thanks for all your comments on this. Really interesting stuff.
     
    PDilemma and (deleted member) like this.
  24. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    That's...not positive thinking, that's some strange form of racketeering. What did she say to the student who pointed out not working for your goal isn't going to help you get into med school?

    I mean, yeah, I guess if you goals are "sit on your @$$ and collection welfare checks," not working and thinking happy thoughts will work for you. Really, that's not 'positive thinking', it's running a scam.
     
  25. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Turning negatives into positives - is when I get injured or sick and it gives me a good excuse to take time off work to watch things like the Tour de France. Last year I sprained my wrist really badly and I had time of work just as the Tour was coming to an end.

    Last week I had a nasty fall on the footpath and again a couple of days off work. Kind of regretting it didn't happen this week, what with Worlds on.
     
  26. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    I ... would totally lose my job in that place :lol:
     
  27. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    But this started with the principal and counselor deciding we should all be more "positive" and think more positively. They were pushing the policy this university set. And they realized they needed help to make it work. Then the principal saw this woman speak on the topic of "positive thinking" at a coaches' conference. And this was the results.

    This is where the "let's all be positive" stuff seems to be going. This woman is not peddling her shit in a vacuum by any means. She is one of many. Someone else in the thread mentioned The Secret which is much the same idea and was a national bestseller. And there are plenty of other "systems" and books and speakers. What they all have in common is they start with "we should be positive and think positive thoughts". Positive thoughts are being imbued with magical powers to solve everything and get everything by all kinds of authors and speakers. If she were the only one...not so much of a problem and I doubt she would be as successful as she is.

    Incidentally, since she is from the area, my sister-in-law found out she knows someone who knows the woman personally who said she is an extremely angry and unhappy person when she isn't turning on her presentation persona. I'm not surprised. She believes that burying negative feelings and experiences is the key to life. When you do that, I think you are likely to end up angry and unhappy.

    As to your question, that student did not ask this woman about how she could be a doctor without working in medical school. She is a smart girl who probably will be a doctor and knew that asking would piss off the principal. She also knew the answer would be convoluted BS. She just had the conversation privately with me.
     
  28. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. And that's part of trying to have a generally good attitude. Even my aunt's death had the positive of being a chance for me to see my extended family that I rarely have a chance to be with. But that didn't mean that none of us mourned her.

    I want to say again, I have no problem with finding the best in a situation or with the idea that your attitude can affect you or any of those things. But it seems like this forced positivity in schools or businesses can easily go to bad places. If no one can say anything that can be perceived as negative, it is difficult to solve problems or view ideas with a critical eye or just have a bad day.
     
  29. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

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    ITA. Positive thoughts can be powerful, but applying them to all situations is naive and futile. It's like Maslow's Hammer: when the only tool a person has is a hammer, they tend to treat everything as if it were a nail.

    I wonder if these motivational speakers/gurus would mind if I use my positive thinking towards hoping they end up like other scam artists like Jason Russell. :p
     
  30. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    How on earth did they teach history in that school? Just omit things like slavery and the Japanese internment camps?