Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

To My Social Media Group Where Parents Complain about Lack of Leadership During the COVID outbreak

No one, no one, knows what to do in this situation. 
My communities online are remarking our leadership’s blunders in policy (changing from morning to afternoon), misspellings, grammar gaffs, missed curfew opportunities, misdirections.  Sometimes, I laugh.  Sometimes, I worry.  My wish now is that we’d all stop complaining about the lack of direction or uncertainty.
No one, no one, knows what to do in this situation. 
Everyone in my area and state (yours too?) are trying their best, Georgia style, for better and for worse.  Everyone also has self interest at stake. Everyone has questions. How can a small business person survive if no one is leaving their home for services or goods? How can those who need to work at home possibly continue to work if children are around and we must suddenly become full daycare providers and home-school educators? How are we going to get through this?
It’s so hard not to know what the plan is.  All the more difficult when our leaders are compromised at the very top, eschewing science and pandering to greed and ignorance. In light of this 1) lack of leadership or 2) leaders who are uncertain; 3) leaders who are compromised in intelligence or 4) by greed or 5) leaders who do “know better” but are following orders from above (#s 1-4), we all suffer.
This is why it is essential that we rethink leadership at every level.  This means me.  This means you.  We must lead like we wish to be lead, with patience, curiosity, compassion, and wisdom, in our homes and in our online forums.  Be the leader you wish were the one making decisions now at your school, workplace, city, state, nation.
We parents, who always have so much to complain about, need to lead our households in this new normal–how to give our kids stimulating tasks at home, what meaningful life information to teach them, what online tools are available, and how to keep ourselves fit and sane through this pandemic while trying to juggle any work we are lucky enough to still have  (I cannot overlook my great privilege now, still having paid work). We prepare for two weeks which will likely turn out to be a much longer ride. I am preparing to be home through May, maybe longer.  I am frightened.  I am unclear.
I wish all our current leaders, including leaders of our own homes, the greatest of wisdom and courage in these uncertain, “unchartered” (ha! amusing blunder!) times.
I am pleased my state suspended schools and primaries.  I am disappointed my own city government will not enforce (not yet) a curfew that I believe would be the necessary bad guy move.  But can we afford to support our local businesses if we require them to close?  Without an authoritarian regime, how do we enforce rules to keep us all safe and at home?
No one, no one, knows.  No one wants our town, city, state or nation to follow Italy’s example, multiplying speedily the disease because we were afraid to shut ourselves down.   But we will follow Italy in our towns and nation unless we act with speed to curtail our actions–the U.S./North America is just bigger than Italy, COVID’s spread will just take more time.
My husband, a great family leader, reminded us at our house meeting that previous generations have each had their great challenges: Vietnam(parents), World Wars (grandparents), the Great Depression (great grandparents). What have our generations had? Have we ever had that was like this? Global warfare where the bad guy is a fast spreading, deadly disease? No. Never. Never at this scale.  
Peer parents in despair, when you complain about our local leaders and local decisions, please consider being a leader at home and in your online communities.  Share good information, indications of positive action, ideas to support those who have less, activities to generate new thinking and thoughtful conversation at home.  Make us laugh! Help us see the flaws in our system and leadership decisions but also help us see opportunities.  Write to your leaders with these good ideas, float them to others to see if they stick.  The only hope we have is that this current pandemic can unify us all to be in this together, at our very best, against common enemies: greed, ignorance, disease, untimely death.
We are all online now, eating up news that zaps our spirit and energy.  Send someone a kindness, a query.  If they are too busy, they may not respond.  But you might just hit the right soft spot in someone else, reminding each other that the virtual world, in groups and in individual correspondence, can be a source of cynicism and fear mongering, but it can also be a source of strength and renewal too.

One response to “To My Social Media Group Where Parents Complain about Lack of Leadership During the COVID outbreak

  1. teachersactup-Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor July 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Post-script: I am haunted by how ignorant this post now seems, how much the extension of pandemic living helps me to see my own privilege and the ongoing warfare and crisis lived by Black Americans. When we stand as judges of our own histories, my wish is to be severe and accepting of myself at the same time so we can have something positive come out of this end of the world experience of 2020.


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