I was reminded today that I work with a lot of smart people. That wasn’t new information to me and it isn’t particularly shocking, but it is worth saying out loud. I had several thoughtful conversations today about how to make the schools I work in stronger. The funny thing is, I have more questions now then I did when the day started. I believe there is a reason for that. Smart people ask questions. Smart people don’t think they always have all the answers.
The current culture of my two favorite topics, schools and politics, seem to be filled with those who are sure they have all of the answers. Spending time today with people who are very smart and truly care about making things better made me recognize why I have become uncomfortable expressing opinions in recent months. In an environment of thoughtful people who are focused on making the world around them better it is safe to express opinions and ideas. In an environment where only the loudest voices are heard and asking questions can be perceived as weakness it doesn’t feel so safe to express yourself.
Whether it is in conversations about school funding, about school improvement, or in our national conversations about our country, it is important that we value the dialogue, we value smart questions, and we value smart people (even when, maybe most importantly when, we disagree with them). My world was better today because it was spent with smart people having thoughtful conversations about important work.. I encourage you to find smart people and ask them lots of questions. I also encourage you to peel yourself away from people who are sure they have all of the answers. Those people aren’t going to make your conversations any richer or help create new solutions to the challenges we face.
I am blessed to be surrounded by good people and I am going to make it my mission to engage them as often as I can, if only to remind me of all of the things I still have to learn.