Thursday, February 25, 2010

Choice of language colors the conversation

"in the cross of two shadows, there lies a darker diamond" I wrote that many years ago. I come back to that from time to time. Recognizing patterns, recognizing intersections.

Kate Rutter writes:
Here’s the skinny on what I call Page Rage. Page Rage is the emotion that overwhelms you when you realize that continuing to use the term Web Page curdles opportunities for evolving user experiences. Why? Because the word is an artifact of the woefully outdated book metaphor — a metaphor that limits thinking.

The word “page” means paper and books. And although it never made literal sense, it was a helpful metaphor when the digital stuff on the web was mostly about static content…when it behaved more like books. But the capabilities and possibilities for digital interfaces have shifted dramatically.
You can read her full explanation in this weeks Adaptive Path Newsletter here.

Bill Glynn writes:
Equally disconcerting is the union’s rejection of the Superintendent’s plan, not based upon the plan’s potential effectiveness, but based upon selfish and misplaced priorities. It’s impossible to determine from this article exactly how the union came to its position and whether or not that position actually reflects the view of the faculty at large. However, the union’s position is troubling. When demands to negotiate take priority over the overwhelming need to work together, that’s a problem. When more time is spent searching the fine print of a contract or seeking a legal opinion than researching best practices for motivating and connecting with students, that’s a problem. When education is waning and students are suffering and the voice of the teacher goes unsolicited or is organizationally silenced, that’s a problem.
I suggest that you go and read the full posting on the Franklin School Committee blog here.  The Central Falls High School teacher situation is not good. It will not be solved (if it can be) in the newspapers and blogs. Especially when the readers are presented information where the words chosen are already coloring the points of view. Negotiations can not be conducted in a public discourse when the goal of newspapers is to sell papers or the goal of TV is to attract eyes to sell advertising.

The darker diamond that I opened with indicates where the two articles (Kate's and Bill's) come together. Kate is struggling with describing a website in page references where the page is not reflective of the "thing" itself.  Bill is assuming that there was no negotiation and that the teachers priorities are misplaced and selfish based upon what has been written in the papers. I read between those same lines and see a different story. I see negotiation. I see desire to help. I see a breakdown due to a miss understanding of an issue that has played here in Franklin and may indeed return.

The real issue is time. The teachers did agree to the extra summer work. They did not agree to the extension of the school day as the compensation was insufficient.

Yes, Bill can apply all sorts of adjectives to the situation. He has. Just be aware that there is an inherent bias in the words chosen. Just like Kate's issue with talking about web pages. The web is so much more than a page but continuing to talk about a page is limiting. Accusing the teachers of "selfish and misplaced priorities" assumes one takes the higher road. Taking a higher road will not resolve a negotiation that requires coming to a meeting of the minds in the middle.

What language would you choose to use?