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  1. #1

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    You better be happy or else

    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/ed...326-1vuob.html

    Although I did like this quote from the article:

    Ms Gale said the code threatened the ability of academic and professional staff to carry out their work. ''We're talking about a university community. People are supposed to be sceptical and questioning. That's their job.''
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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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 by PDilemma; 03-27-2012 at 03:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    That's downright Orwellian. (Though you probably weren't supposed to teach Orwell either.)
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
    Old, lonely, pathos-hungry, and extremely gullible

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    I was later reprimanded because the speech is "negative" and I did not tell the students that Macbeth should not speak "negative words"
    Well, look where those negative words got him! If he had been more upbeat- the play may have ended differently!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Well, look where those negative words got him! If he had been more upbeat- the play may have ended differently!
    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.

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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. I
    That is truly worrisome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    That is truly worrisome.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    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.

    at your principal for thinking Shakespeare was too negative.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    Quote Originally Posted by modern_muslimah View Post

    at your principal for thinking Shakespeare was too negative.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    *smh* That dude has some serious issues.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by modern_muslimah View Post
    *smh* That dude has some serious issues.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    That's exactly what I find dangerous about the "positive-thinking" mentality too. And I'm a sickeningly persistent optimist.

    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. It's good to feel those emotions in a controllable setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    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.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    And people really believe that shit?

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    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.
    From the mouths of babes! They were raised right by their parents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    And people really believe that shit?
    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.

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