I just finished reading the book, Linchpin by Seth Godin and in it he has so many incredibly useful and life-changing ideas. But the one I especially keep coming back to this week is the one about the importance of being genuine, of 'meaning it.' He explains that human beings are very astute at being able to 'read' each other and if you're not going to genuine in your expressions and communications then why bother for all of us can read right through the facade anyway. He further explains that if you're at a place of work, for example, where the culture is not conducive for you or others to being genuinely friendly and courteous and respectful as a whole, that perhaps, this is not the place for you.
The reason I keep coming back to this idea of 'meaning it' is that, as many of you may know, I got a new art teaching job this year, at a different district than last year. This school system, Arlington Public Schools in Northern Virginia, has really done a great job inspiring me beyond what I had expected; I mean, they have taken this 15-year teacher off her feet! Aside from their impeccable organization of orientation week so far, the people are just so, so friendly, almost old-world gracious. Myself being somewhat of a cynic due to past circumstances and a critic by nature, I all week long trying to literally 'assess' the genuineness of every new person I met. I asked myself, "Could they possibly be this happy?", "Could they possibly be this helpful to me?", "Could they possibly love their job this much?" I pride myself at being able to read people, and yes, slowly I'm starting to believe that these new friendly, smiling people may actually be as friendly, happy and content as they present themselves to be!! I feel this will be an amazing journey and happy to be on this path.
So why does 'meaning it' matter anyway? Here's why. Godin, in his book, explains how we've all experienced the human automatons on customer service calls who respond a canned, 'I am so sorry you're experiencing difficulties' as you call for help. When you hear these dry remarks we immediately know why meaning it matters. The canned response does not alleviate our situation, or soothe us in any way because we know it's not genuine.
This same dilemma repeats itself in the state of education in this country today, especially in the inner cities. The overburdening of our teachers with scripted lessons, scripted morning responses, scripted set of behaviors only takes away from our kids for 'scripted-ness', by its very nature, is limiting, a dead-on inspiration killer. Inspiration matters because all great ideas come from inspiration. I'd go as far as to say that the solution to our educational system lies right here in this issue of 'being allowed to be genuine.' It's simple......If only, as a country-wide initiative we would from now on ONLY hire teachers we trust to teach (for life), we could then 'loosen the noose' and allow our teachers to be who they are, to critically develop her own ideas and teach without all the scripting. Inspiration does not and will not stem from inside a cage. Just like in gardening, all the conditions must be met for flowering to happen.