I don’t know why, but it always surprises me when an obvious novice argues (not questions, but argues) with an expert.  I first experienced this when I watched a small group of principals argue with Mike Schmoker.  In the early 2000’s, Mike flew to Austin, Texas to meet with a small group of school leaders that were taking over failing schools.  In that room were a number of Old School LYS’ers (when they were rookies who had just taken jobs that nobody else wanted).  Most of the participants were furiously taking notes, trying to retain as much information as much as possible from one of the big brains in education.  But then there were the other three principals.  Every time Schmoker said something or made a point, their facial expressions were as if they had bit into lemons and them they would whisper knowingly to each other. Finally, after they had evidently had enough, one in the group challenged Schmoker on some of his arguably less important, but still correct points.  Schmoker was polite, but would not cede that the arguers were correct, because frankly, they weren’t.  It finally got to a point where the other principals in the room asked the arguers to either stop or leave. 

Looking smug the arguers simply turned their backs to Schmoker and talked quietly to each other.  I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised when each of those three principals quickly flamed out and were replaced.  But that’s another story.

All that to say there is significant value in picking your battles.  Experts are experts for a reason.  In their area of expertise they have read more, researched more, built more and/or done more than the typical person in the field. So when an AP decides he or she has taken umbrage with something E. Don Brown says, just know that the Old School LYS’ers aren’t laughing with you, they are laughing at you.  

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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