Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

Lately I've been confronted by individuals with dominant personalities. They are lecturers who could say 'This is trash' to a student in the middle of their defence, who acquires their air of authority if they've succeeded in proving they are intellectually superior to students. At first I, in all my lame attempt to avoid being self-righteous, gave them the benefit of the doubt.

But after consoling students who felt shut down and kicked around, somehow I just grew angry. Maybe it was the overprotective mother in me, but it really brought the worst in me.

I thought, these people should not become educators. They should perhaps choose a sector where it is part of a job requirement to mentally supersede someone else. But not as a lecturer.

Before I had a chance to pause and think, I felt that surge of motivation where I wanted to just beat them in their own game. Educate myself, be well-connected and climb higher up the ladder so I could shove them over.

And what purpose would that serve? Who am I protecting? What am I achieving? Who died and made me queen of all that is right?

I don't want to be that person.

And if my aim is to assist students to stand on their own two feet, to find a way to initiate ideas and structure their thoughts - then the point is to nurture their logical thinking and self-confidence. That with sound ideas, they should not fear anyone. That all of this is part of a learning process.

The world is full of black and whites anyway. If it's not these intellectual bullies it would be someone else. At the end, it's our individual battle to be brave enough to take a stand and defend ourselves. It is the tasks of educators (i.e. parents, managers, lecturers) to harness this trait in future generations - not (only) ensuring that the world is a better place once we've left it. But to make them believe in themselves and fight back when unfairly treated.

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