Thursday, August 4, 2005

Sticking Up for Your Beliefs II

In one of my recent entries, I explained a wise lesson I learned about sticking up for your beliefs while at MSU working on my PhD. I wanted to tell you about another example from my time there which also illustrates this point beautifully.

I was taking a class in which I was probably the youngest at age 30. The class was filled with principals and superintendents. The class got onto the subject of corporal punishment in schools. I was so shocked to learn that many of these principals CURRENTLY had paddles and spanked the children & teens in the school. I thought that was just when my parents where young. This turned into quite a heated discussion. At one point a women even turned around and asked where I was from & when I replied she said, "I knew you were not from here!"

About 2 weeks later I went to pick up my exam from my professor's office. He gave me my exam & asked if he could speak to me for a minute. I said sure & sat down. He said, "I'm not sure if you realize it or not, but many of your classmates really don't like you." This was a young male teacher, fresh out of graduate school teaching his first semester. I had more teaching experience than he did. Well, those of you who read my entries enough can you imagine my reply already! :-) I said, "Oh really.....(very slowly!) Ha! Some know what that means! I said, "Well, I'm not here to make friends, my goal is to get an education" and I left his office. Now education can mean learning what not to do! This was something I learned not to do!

We got to the end of the term & we were all to pick a subject, write a paper & present it to the class. Guess what happened! We had about 12 students & from my recollection about 9 did their paper on corporal punishment. I didn't even do it on the subject! They all came up with the research results I expected, but the most interesting one was the women who was so concerned about where I was from. She got up & said, "You all know I was pretty hard on someone in here when we had the discussion on this topic. I picked this topic to prove her wrong. I want to tell you all I no longer paddle my students!" I took that as an apology. She was a principal. She then went on to present her data & why she came to that conclusion. I'm so glad her students would no longer have that consequence.

Incidentally, as all these people got up & changed their minds on corporal punishment I was sitting in the back row of desks right next to my professor. He had no clue because we would present & then come to him & turn our paper in as we finished. Yes, again, it was not about being right. No reason to look at him or say "I told you" etc. The message was loud & clear. I hope he received the message. Again, I realized you can have an impact on people and think if we did not have to present, but just turn in our papers. I would not have known I had that impact, but I would have.

So these experiences remind me to keep my faith in my beliefs unless I am quite convinced otherwise. You have to feel your beliefs in the inner core of you. It has to feel good. When it feels is not wrong!


nhd106 said...

Beautiful entry... and excellent point!  And by the way...I'm with you on this belief on corporal punishment (for whatever THAT'S worth).   Nancy

lurkynat said...

Dear Deborah,
Thank you for the great journal entry! It is almost exactly the same as what I went through..people who are overly into corporal punishment don't seem to see the light of day! Good job Deboarh!

sierrajazz said...

We may touch peoples lives and change their opinions in many ways and never even know about it.  You never know who is watching or paying attention to what you do or say.  I have admired alot of people and they have helped me in many ways just by watching the way they handle themselves or deal with people.  I have never told them, so they don't know what an impression they have made on me.  Sometimes it just takes one person to voice a difference of opinion to make others brave enough to also not follow the majority. Someone always has to make the first move.