Ed policy opponents aren’t evil

Whether you support or oppose education reforms, your policy adversaries aren’t evil, writes Daniel Willingham. Furthermore, you probably don’t know what they’re thinking — especially if you think they “don’t care about kids.”

Despite his opposition to education reformers and his “history of defending teachers and their unions,” Pedro Noguera was labeled anti-teacher (by Bridging Differences colleague Deborah Meier and others) for writing that teachers’ “unions must be clearer about what needs to change,” he complains. That’s bad strategy, Noguera writes.

If we also take the position that anyone who suggests that teachers’ unions are not doing enough to push for change in the way schools operate we will lose critical supporters, and not just me. There is widespread failure in urban schools (and many suburban and rural schools as well). Change is indeed necessary.

Some of the comments suggest that everyone who supports education reforms must be in league with right-wing knuckle-scrapers, if not Satan himself.

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Comments

  1. If your opponents aren’t evil for opposing you that does leave unaddressed the question of why they *are* opposing you.

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    Banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

  3. I agree with the above, but I also think there is usually a strong component of “if I don’t do this, someone else will anyway, so it doesn’t matter if I do it.” A good book on the subject, _The Science of Good and Evil_ :

    http://www.amazon.com/Science-Good-Evil-People-Gossip/dp/0805077693/

  4. GEORGE LARSON says:

    If your opponents aren’t evil for opposing you that does leave unaddressed the question of why they *are* opposing you.

    Both sides could be right or

    Both sides could be wrong or

    Both sides could be partly right and partly wrong.

    Reality is not always an exercise in binary logic.

    Evil or holiness may have nothing to do with reality.

    “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ think it possible you may be mistaken”

  5. Michelle Rhee is evil, why else would she bring a camera crew along to fire a principal?

    • George Larson says:

      Maybe she wanted a record of the event to avoid a lawsuit? Maybe she was starting a pilot for a reality TV series? Maybe she wanted to record the event for posterity? Maybe she was making training video on How to Fire an Employee? Maybe she was going to put it on the Internt to intimidate her opposition? Maybe she was going to put it on the Internt to humiliate the Principal? Maybe she wanted us to see another example of her superior management?