04 Jun Teachers or terrorists?
It was a painfully eye-opening experience.
We were in Mangalore in the last week of May’ 2010 to conduct a 2-day session for about 60 teachers of one of the most reputed schools in out there. Very hopefully and perhaps a shade foolishly we had named the session Enabling the Enablers. A complete misnomer when I look back at the two flawed assumptions on the basis of which we wanted to facilitate the program
- The teachers were ‘enabling’ the students and
- They were open to being ‘enabled’.
As a practice we get the participants to ‘contract’ with us that they have come with intent to go through the experience of unlearning and learning to take away some actionable insights for individual and institutional development. Here also we did it. And this time, may be sensing some dis-connect, we at length explained the objective behind this process, the learning and participation norms that they are required to follow and how crucial it is to be authentic about their statements for us to partner in the learning process and make it effective.
Only y’day I was going through these forms which we call as Expression of Intent to Participate only to realize most of what most have written were outright lies. Just some good words, the right thing to say and something that will make me seen as ‘respectable’.
Right from the word go, it seemed that they were doing a favor to us by feigning to participate. When I say ‘they’ I mean 90% of the 53 teachers present on day one, session one. Otherwise engaged in random side-talks, getting response from them to any inquiry was almost like magic. Barring a few, unless solicited, beseeched or provoked, most will look at you dumb as if they even haven’t heard or seen anything, which was quite likely looking at their pre-occupation with their side-businesses during the workshop.
Only thing that worked sometime was provocation. And that too would be more a reaction of judgment, aggression or defiance.
Towards the end of day one, when they were brought together to work on a common agenda as a large group what came out to their shock and dismay was rampant false agreement and in authenticity. What came to our shock and dismay however was their collective defense of their in authentic behavior the excuse being that is the only way to be socially acceptable.
Day two wasn’t much different. Even after we shifted gears and moved into being appreciative most of the group members continued to lie and defy. The writing was very clear on the wall – YOU CAN NOT ‘ENABLE’ US. WE ARE ALREADY ‘ENABLED’. Enabled to disable. Designed to be resign. Their learning disabilities shamelessly peeking out of their masks as they reveled in being their positions (as custodians of knowledge and learning), finding the enemy out there (which included the management and parents) and of course finding comfort in the collective misery of the ‘boiling frog’.
I was beginning to feel alarmed thinking of the 1400 students whose lives these teachers were impacting day in and day out. The best I thought I could do is wake them up from their self-imposed stupor of arrogance and aggression to hold a mirror for them to see what they have become. Getting them to see the ugly masks that they were donning. Some shied away, some cried while most, in their disgust and hatred of their own persona threw stones at the mirror breaking it into may more pieces. Showing them more of their self-imposed false-hood and incongruity.
Towards the end, I realized it was an organized movement of collective lose-lose. They have imbibed their conditioned comfort zones as operating beliefs. They have built a culture of collective disability. And they have co-created for themselves collective agendas to sabotage the mission of the institution believing that to be the right thing to do. With awesome conviction and passion. So much like the terrorists.
As one of the minority members of this group of teachers had commented, some teachers were there by choice and some by chance. It seemed, most of the group, which by now had reduced to 47, were there by chance, engaging in fooling themselves and believing that they could fool others too. Totally dis-interested to seek ordination to the very cause of them being in that role, that is, of molding 1400 young lives to be honorable and honest citizens of this country. And on the contrary pursuing for themselves their own selfish designs to take care of their deep seated sense of malice and misery.