Tag Archive for 'conversation'

Teachers in a 'recession'

May you live in interesting times. Comes from the Chinese saying “时势造英雄”(pin-yin shi shi zao ying xiong), which means heroes (or leaders, depending upon your interpretation) are best created in turbulent eras. We most assuredly are in some interesting times. And I suspect that many of those heroes that we’ll create and need in the next few years are the students in our schools today. You’re probably teaching some (all?!) of them right now.

Interesting times?? If I follow the media, I become emotionally exhausted by the endless prognostications about upcoming upheavals. When I’m at a party, the chief topic of conversation revolves around surviving the pending holocaust (their words, not mine). And I especially wonder how kids are feeling about all of this when they hear the grown-ups doing their lamenting.

Yet look at what we’re doing to ourselves, and to them. Self-fulfilling prophecies can be very powerful, and we’re basically talking ourselves into the creation of financial environments that could be much worse than they need to be. Economies have always thrived on confidence, or conversely, have been decimated by fear.

Now don’t get me wrong here. The financial environment is absolutely much tighter than it was in 2006. And if you’re reading this from Detroit, you’re probably not going to be wearing your rose-coloured glasses any time soon…. and the rest of us pay total respect to your situation.

What intrigues me is the individual and collective thinking that occurs in situations such as this, and the resultant moods that this creates. Let me give you an example. Just below, I’ve outlined a collation of two groups of comment and data from various sources over the past few days. Let’s call them Outline One and Outline Two. Take note of your thinking, and your emotional state, as you read each one:


* World share markets have plunged over 45% in the past 12 months. This is the most rapid loss in human history, and that includes the Great Depression of the ’30s.

* The world is awash in personal, corporate and government debt, with a percentage majority of all three groups living well beyond their means.

* Retirees with shrinking superannuation will be forced to re-enter the workforce, and this at a time when unemployment will be rising. The outlook for them is not heartening.


* The interest rate on mortgages is the lowest it has been in 4 decades (right now, in the US, and soon to be the case in NZ and Australia).

* Depending upon your own country’s exchange rates, petrol is between one half and one third of its cost compared to just over one year ago.

* While the experts talk about pending unemployment rates of 8 to 10%, no-one mentions the employment rate of 90 to 92 %.

*Many world governments have reacted swiftly, and have implemented proactive measures that reflect a strong understanding of lessons learned in the past 100 years.

* Yes, the US will need to resolve many financial issues over the next few years. However, we’re talking about the country on this planet that has the ultimate can-do attitude. Watch out for a US-led recovery.

See the difference??

I’m not proposing that we adopt a pollyanna perspective here, and blithely wander on as though nothing untoward is happening. Of course it’s happening. What I’m suggesting is that we each pay respect to the thinking that we’re doing, and the resultant words that we use in describing what’s occurring around us.

Don’t become a sensationalist, and create controversy just because it titillates you. If you engage in that type of conversation, then you’re part of the problem. This is even more critical when you work with young people. Please don’t engage in the angst-ridden hype so beloved by some media commentators. Otherwise, we’ll have lots of kids who will worry more than many of them need to do.

If you’re a teacher, here are 5 points that are worth considering:

1. When you have a permanent work position, you can ‘afford’ to feel comfortable about your profession. This enables you to focus exclusively on what really matters – your students. So take advantage of the security that this provides for you, and live your profession with deep commitment.

2. A small percentage of people in the teaching workforce (well…sometimes not so small) whinge and complain about their profession. In tighter economic times, they are less likely to do so, which means that you won’t have to listen to them. They’ll realise that, while work is not an attractive option for them, not having work is a much less attractive one.

3. In reality, this is not just a financial upheaval around the world. It’s a sustainability upheaval. We’re being given messages about rebalancing our usage of resources. This is a very good thing for the planet (it could do with a breather), and for the 4 billion who have many many fewer of those resources. We are now entering an Age of Austerity, in which we very consciously will need to live within our planetary means.

4. We’ll get rid of the excess. Clear the air. Have a springclean. And this decluttering is good for the soul. We all know how great it feels to rid yourself of extra stuff (personal weight / unused clothing / unwanted Chrissie prezzies). While it can sometimes be painful to go through the ‘letting go’ process, it’s highly beneficial over the long term. And you just know that it needs to be done.

5. This period of time will provide you with endless teaching / learning opportunities. Just imagine how you could focus on essential questions such as:

Q. Do I let the media affect ME?

Q. In a pending Age of Austerity, what sustainable actions will I choose to take?

Q. How will this recession create opportunities for developing stronger communities? What plans could our school put into action to enhance these opportunities?

Remember, it’s YOUR words that demonstrate your thinking and intentions. Why not give an inspiring example of those intentions in your very next conversation?