The Hills On Which We Choose To Die
Larry Zuares

Drawing a line in the sand. Something all teachers are familiar with, I think. It is also something I get asked a lot as a principal – what are your non-negotiables?

I have come to appreciate, in great part thanks to Arthur Chiaravalli , that when we use these types of images (war, conflict, business, and sport – you should check out his articles on these!) that we place teaching in a light that I think is more adversarial than collaborative, or at least one that sets up a dialectic of winners and losers. Sometimes, you even have to do both – dying on the hill to win it.

I don’t see learning in this way, and I don’t want to subscribe to imagery that paints this picture of the relationship between educator and learner ( or as I would prefer to say between learners). It really should be about what the individual learner needs, as opposed to what we think all learners need.

As you demonstrate so well, when we get stuck on one thing, we lose touch with the learner and the consequent lack of response or power struggle says much more about our abilities and limitations than it does about the student’s.

There is nothing worth setting up an all or nothing situation with a student. These standoffs destroy relationships and create a feeling in students that learning is about compliance and the sacrifice of individuality.

Why can’t we focus more on growing and building, and relationships? If we talked this talk, I really believe it would be help build a different reality for learners.

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you.