A friend and I occasionally joke—and by “joke” I mean commiserate, laughing at ourselves—about our being reluctant windmill-tilters. I’ve spoken before about this tendency of mine toward passion-driven crusades, this compulsion to dream impossible dreams. The reluctance comes into play with my textbook introversion and general aversion to conflict.
Even taking a bold, controversial stance, appearing to know something with some assurance, is a challenge, which makes it a wonder I found myself in a career where I promote an unorthodox (I prefer the term “cutting-edge”) model of education. That said, this paradox has been an unmistakable, recurring pattern in my life: I’m a private person, yet I reveal a great deal online; I’m self-conscious, yet I often fling myself into the limelight of musical performances and public speaking.
This split personality has its liabilities, for sure. For example, the past couple months I’ve taken up a daily Twitter habit, venturing boldly into that arena of self-assured soundbites. Even more frequently than with Facebook, here I find myself cringing and/or deleting posts that seem too strident, sighing with exasperation at the umbrage and audacity of others. Every day, it seems, I dance this endless tango of assertiveness and self-restraint.
Fortunately, my well-developed diplomatic side tempers the missionary zeal to which I’m prone. In the seventeen years I’ve been associated with Sudbury schools I believe I’ve become considerably more reasonable and pragmatic: more capable of respecting divergent perspectives on what, to me, is a vital issue; less likely to press my convictions on those with whose views I profoundly disagree.
This wasn’t a quick or easy process, however—and it wasn’t without costs. Continue reading