A Painful Admission


It is painful for me to admit, but I lost heart.  Totally lost heart.  It wasn’t so much that I knew the incoming administration would be bad (and the reality has been worse than the anticipation), but rather that the country had been duped and worse, was OK with being duped.

Watching the entire country make a disastrous decision based on bad information is a really hard thing for a teacher of critical thinking to live through.  Even worse was that many of my actual students were in agreement with the country’s decision.  It continues to amaze me how many of my students, both male and female, are Trumpian in outlook.  It saddens me deeply.

I lost heart so much that I just couldn’t write.  Words seemed hollow and useless.  I thought lots of words, but none of them seemed useful to actually put on “paper.”

This is a halting restart of my writing…more to follow.

Encouragement most welcome.

Comments

  1. rcurtis505 says

    This may not be encouragement. I totally get what you are saying. The situation sucks, big time, especially, as you say, the outlook of some (some!) young people. But you do not have the right to lose heart. That is a variant of solipism. You need to keep writing, keep talking, keep feeling. I am not saying you need to be optimistic! Just remember, it is not about you or me.

    • says

      Actually, no. I have been surprised both ways. The roughest, toughest looking guys sometimes turn out to have the most progressive viewpoints and I have been taken aback more than once by women who were quite literally abused can have very strong conservative/religious opinions.

      • Pierce R. Butler says

        Do the Trump Chumps show any (other) differences in crit-think skills compared to their less deluded classmates?

        • says

          This is a difficult question for me as I think we have to be careful of confusing results with process. I am sure there are many thoughtful conservatives (and maybe even Trump supporters) who have looked at the world in a reasonable fashion and come to their conclusions. I am equally sure that there are are liberal types who truly have arrived at their positions through sheer “Knee-jerkery.” I find myself often thinking I knew the “facts” about something and then found that things were much muddier than I first thought. I often feel like the real result of critical thinking is not being 100% sure about anything.

  2. Roj Blake says

    Welcome back, I have missed you.

    It’s posts like this that make me glad I don’t live in Murica. We do have our own homegrown wackaloons, but none quite as dangerous as King Donald of Queens.

  3. StevoR says

    I can understand and yeah its hard but progressive writers, critical thinkers and good people are needed more than ever and if we give up then we let them win, let the worst elements of the Kakistoracy (rule by the worst) drag the United of States and wider world ever further backwards and worse-wards with all the consquent, pain and misery for real individual human lives that entails.

    So.

    You are needed. Please.

    We are all of us needed for the fight against it and the sparking of minds and sharing of thoughts, tactics, stories and techniques of war social justice* activism.

    Watching the entire country make a disastrous decision based on bad information is a really hard thing for a teacher of critical thinking to live through.

    No. Not the entire country but rather less than one in five Americans :

    About 60.35 million voted for Trump; ~60.98 million voted for Clinton. 46.9% of registered voters did not vote, and the U.S. has a population of 324.97 million. Yes, ~18.6% of the U.S. population, less than one in five, has set us on this course. There are several big problems right there. But we’re here, and we all need to work our way through it.

    http://www.notesfromberingia.com/if-the-wind-will-not-serve-take-to-the-oars/

    Please lets all remember that Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote by three million or so individual people and that many others were prevented from voting by unfair restrictions, or had their votes rendered undemocratically worth far less by gerrymandering,the lack of preferential /run-off voting & most of all the electoral college.

    This Aussie thinks the USA’s much vaunted democracy most badly needs some major political reforms -which of course are unlikely to happen yet desperately needed.

    Anyhow. Please, do not give up, keep thinking, writing and expressing critically and well and work together to stop Trump because it really matters.

    * Yeah, those are NOT dirty words and why have they become something to shy away from? Yes, I support social justice and think its worth fighting for though I may not be much of a warrior really.

  4. says

    I’ve been thinking about you, wondering where you wandered, and why. I understand, completely, my heart has gone missing many a time, and it wasn’t long ago I considered quitting blogging. I enjoyed your writing, and I do think it’s needed and definitely has a place. We all do, and no matter how hopeless it seems to be, day to day, well, we haven’t been nuclear crisped (yet), and every voice raised up in resistance is needed. Now is not the time for silence. We need anger, we need wise counsel, we need strength, and we need joy and laughter too. All those things. We must remind ourselves that we are human, and that we have the ability to rise, to reach out, to join hands.

    You are always and forever welcome to stop by Affinity, to the open thread, and pour out your discouragement or whatever fills your heart at the moment. You’ll find support and empathy there.

  5. says

    Sad to say, critical thinking is a rare talent and I don’t think you can teach it to too many people who don’t possess it. At least I’ve never managed it.

  6. jazzlet says

    Critical thinking is an important skill, but there is a lot of evidence that suggests many people simply can not apply that skill to their own beliefs when those beliefs are too tied up with their sense of self. Some of us do, I was a born-again evangelical, now I am a dead-again atheist, but I know that most people simply do not make that sort of change in their beliefs. Your students will be applying what they learnt from you, but sadly most will just apply it selectively, it doesn’t make your teaching less important and there will be some who apply your teaching to themselves as well as the world around them. For those who do apply it to themselves as well as the rest of the world you have supplied them with a sound basis for thought for the rest of ther lives, not a small thing!

    • says

      I agree with your insights here, but generally go a step further. The brain is an extremely costly organ from an energy standpoint and evolution has set us up, basically, to use it as sparingly as possible, so it takes shortcuts all the time. We really have to force it to think “outside the box” at all.

  7. says

    I know these feels. I have posted about everything going on on my blog because I simply don’t want to. I’m exhausted and hurting. And now that Homeland Security has deemed Antifa to be “domestic terrorists”, I’m genuinely ready to ragequit.

    But, IMO, we have to keep going. I think StevoR is right, honestly.

    You’re a good blogger, and I hope you come back to us. I want to read what you have to say, even if it’s random streams-of-consciousness (read my blog… other than GGS and APotW, that’s what it is)

  8. says

    Welcome back. We need to keep speaking out. It may seem like no one is listening, but there are people listening to us. Many the audience is small now, but they might attract attention later. Do what you can, but silence is not the way to fight Trump or the lack of critical thinking.

  9. tkreacher says

    Not so much encouragement but rather commiseration. I was given a blog here around the time the election mess was happening/ending and…

    I haven’t written a single blog post.

    It just all seems so futile. Maybe soon though I’ll be able to do what you’re doing. Mustering up.

  10. says

    Ages ago, when I was teaching freshman writing courses in grad school, a fellow student asked our pedagogy professor how we could keep ourselves from burning out. Her advice was to find the one student in each class who made teaching that particular section worthwhile. Perhaps, if you see yourself as teaching through the blog, there are readers out here who make writing worthwhile, even when the world is burning around us?

  11. says

    I don’t think you can ever really know how much influence you’re having with your students (or your readers here). Learning critical thinking skills and other forms of enlightenment doesn’t just arise from one course or one teacher, but you could very well be the key catalyst that leads to someone’s big “aha” moment down the road, or maybe just another drop of water in a larger current that finally washes away someone’s ignorance and foolishness. And you will never, ever know.

    The thing is, (some) peoples’ minds really do change. We know this. In my lifetime, I’ve seen same sex marriage legalized nationwide—an unthinkable feat 20 years ago. So somebody must be doing something right. Whether you know it or not, that somebody just might be YOU.

  12. says

    Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling personally rejected as a consequence our national embrace of Trumpaholism. As a life-long public administration professional, the wholesale adoption of “facts-don’t-matter; results-don’t-matter; consequences-don’t-matter; IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FEELS” has been a metaphorical (thankfully) punch in the face…since facts, results, and consequences are basically my stock-in-trade. Now, I’ve lived through Reagan and W., so it’s hardly news to me that racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism are crucial facts of American political life. And no political ideology is wholly free of magical thinking and wishful fantasy. (That’s sort of what makes it an ideology, rather than…I don’t know…engineering, say.) But I can’t say that I’ve ever seen our country in such open rebellion against the tyranny of concepts like “true-and-false” and “cause-and-effect,” especially as applied to the tasks of the public sector. And, to me, that feels personal.

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