there is looking for truth, and there is looking for truth

word of month character

As an instructor, I make it a point to always observe those that are teaching me. If they do something that I consider a novel approach or entertaining, I will try to emulate it if I believe it is something that I can do effectively as well. If something is done that I do not think is constructive to an open learning environment, then I ask myself how many times I have done the same thing to my students. And sometimes I do do this and sit in my class and think “man, I need to fix this, it’s just unfair for them.”
The greatest skill I have learned from Mr. Joe is the ability to constantly search for truth. Many of us believe we search for truth, but few of us may actually practice it on a daily basis. The search for truth is a long and difficult one. For me and as an instructor, it means often learning that I am wrong or maybe seeing that something I did in the past was not nearly as clear or rational as a way someone else is showing me now. As we get older, we tend to hit milestones where we become less and less unwilling to compromise what we believe as truth. I recently have experienced several situations in a senior level honors course where my opinions were almost immediately stifled by the opinions of the teacher. This is not to say I could not have been wrong, in fact the very act of me voicing my opinions may show that I am looking for some level of affirmation. But in this case, not only was I (in my opinion) abruptly shut down, but the message was quickly sent to the rest of the class that “questions that do not somehow agree with my train of thought will not be considered good questions”. This is absolutely the most dangerous thing we can do to our younger generations is send the message that questioning is wrong. Questions are what keep us guessing. Questioning what we believe is right, is what makes us question our beliefs. And if we are open people, we will either decide that the question was good but to still stand by, and probably strengthen our belief in what we thought, or we will say that the question was still good and that maybe we should reassess our stance on that particular topic. Think of the past, the most positive change has come when people have started to think that presently, what is acceptable as truth is not really truth at all.
But again, as we hit these milestones such as going to college, getting married, having children, getting a job, moving out of your house, having a second child etc….we tend to believe that we need to have most of the answers to the questions in our lives solved. When we tend to solve or present problems in ways that we solved similar problems in the past, this act is called transference. We do this because it is hard accepting that the way we did things in the past may have been wrong, or maybe were good then, but not appropriate now. We must stop wasting so much energy denying what is sometimes so clearly in front of us as truth. We must stop making excuses of why we are avoiding hearing or saying the things we know to be true. In Morgan Peck’s book “the road less traveled” he comments on how often parents will avoid telling the truth (in which he calls a “white lie” which may often be worse then a blatant lie) because they believe they are protecting their children, so to speak.
“For others, however, the “loving” desire to protect their children serves more as a cover-up and rationalization of a desire to avoid being challenged by their children, and a desire to maintain their authority over them. Such parents are saying in effect, :Look kids, you go on being children with childish concerns an leave the adult concerns up to us. See us as strong and loving caretakers. Such an image is good for both of us, so don’t challenge it. It allows us to feel strong and you to feel safe, and it will be easier for all of us if we don’t look into these things too deeply””. M. Scoot Peck
This may happen when a child asks you if you drank alcohol before you were legally old enough to or (as an instructor) if I ever did something disrespectful as a student. The easy answer would be to say “no” but we don’t say this to protect them, we say it to protect ourselves. Children go through an amazing mental development as early as up to 9 months where they are still separating the world from themselves and realizing that when they move, the world is not also moving. As early as three years old, when our children start asking questions, we must answer them with honesty. Sometimes it may do some good to delay honesty but for the most part they (and we) deserve the truth. Learn with your children. How astonished and great a feeling a child will have if his parents decided that their argument was valid and accepted. Done on a consistent basis, wonderful things will happen. And they will always know that (presently) your experience is vastly larger then theirs, but children often experience things extremely different then us, and sometimes their little experience will shed great insight into areas we have since “closed off” or have stopped adjusting. We should not be happy when our children stop asking us questions because no one ever has all the answers, and as we know our truths will always need adjusting as our world adjusts. We should actually be concerned for the day when our children stop asking questions and only agree. Lets make it a habit of looking for truth again.
mr. doug

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