When I heard what Ricky said it made me reflect on my own experiences. I have been accused of offending people through what I have said or written about, and I have informed others that they have offended me. When people say the words “you offended me”, I fear that some feel that that this a just argument and whatever was said or done should be taken back and be apologized for.
If this is true, what if by being offended you have offended someone else. Now who is right? We need to start looking at why one feels offended or attacked by a statement or action. When you read something and your first reaction is one of insult or disgust, I encourage you first ask yourself “Is what is being said true or false?”
If the statement or action is one that should not have been taken in the first place, you need to address the person directly. I encourage the dialogue to not start with “You offended me when….”, but instead “I disagree with….. because …..” This should create a dialogue, discussion or a debate between two people that could end up creating new ideas that neither person thought of.
If you agree with the statement or action and still feel offended, then you need to reflect on your actions and ideas. I remember, when I first started teaching, a person in my staff room criticizing a certain aspect of teaching that I modeled daily. Even though I agree with the criticism of the action, I felt truly attacked. It was not until I realized that this person was not insulting me but the action, that I could truly embrace the needed change of my teaching style. After some thought, I tweaked my pedagogy and noticed an improvement in my classes.
Debate and disagreement are not negative words. If you put any two people in the same room together, there will always be something they disagree on. Does this mean, one person is better than the other, or one person is more right than the other? Not at all!
When I first created a twitter account and read the posts on #mathchat, #edchat, and #edreform I usually logged off with a sour taste in my mouth. There were copious amounts of tweets that forced me to challenge what I would call “regular” teaching. These tweets were not directed at me, but I still felt as if the people tweeting were purposely trying to offend the “traditional” teacher. I decided to embrace these new ideas and truly can say I have never looked back since.
Here is what I have I learned:
· A defense in an argument should never be “Well, you offended me so that means you need to stop saying what you are saying”. Just because you are offended, doesn’t automatically discredit the statement or action. We need to start having discussions with people that disagree with us, or else how do you ever hear from the other side of the argument?
· If you offend someone, that doesn’t mean what you said was wrong. Doesn’t mean it was right either. Reflect on what you said and look at it from another perspective.