Standing up to gossip

Schools are funny places. A large number of teachers haven’t ever really left school. They went to school, then university and then back to work in a school. Sometimes feels like they’re caught in perpetual adolescence.  What I am talking about applies to everyone. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, people like to gossip.

It takes a lot of guts to withstand what others say. The test in this is not changing or bending who you are in order to be liked or accepted by others. There is a lot to be said in staying true to who you are. It actually feels really good!

It takes more guts to actually challenge gossip. Not many people do it. They either engage in it or remain silent. Both just as bad as each other.

I respect anyone that stops gossip in its tracks and says, “what you are saying didn’t happen like that” or “if that person was here what would they think?” or “I don’t think what you are doing is ok”.

I watched a video many years ago, the title escapes me, but there’s a scene where one of the actors refers to gossip as feathers. The image above shows the effects and destruction of gossip – a lot like a feather pillow bursting open. The feathers go everywhere and spread as it blows in the wind and is carried far away. It is almost impossible to collect the feathers and put them all back in the pillow. This is a lot like gossip and the irreversible effects it has. Gossip can colour reputations. A teacher’s reputation is all we really have and can take away with us.

There is a real upside to this post. I can confidently say that I am at a school where gossip does not really exist. I am sure it is there, just not in the malice or nasty ways that I have heard and experienced. It feels so good to be in a school that does not feed or fuel gossip. If there is gossip, it is just the latest scoop on what’s going on, pretty light-hearted stuff.

What is your work place like with gossip?

Have you or would you be able to stand up to gossip and shut it down?

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5 comments

  1. whatedsaid

    Hi Chad

    The story about the feathers is actually a Jewish folk tale!

    We used to have a fair bit of negative gossip, but I think we have got to a stage where the desirable ‘in crowd’ consists of people who really care about learning and are more interested in professional dialogue than making trouble by gossiping about other staff members. Maybe everyone is part of the in crowd now! Having a dynamic learning culture makes all the difference. Who’s got time for gossip? 🙂

    Ed

    • concentricthinking

      Jewish folk tale – I like it! So true Edna, who has time for it. It is really good to know that your workplace has their priorities right – ” a dynamic learning culture. Would really like to come your way soon.

  2. bhwilkoff

    The part of this post that really caught me off guard was this: “A large number of teachers haven’t ever really left school.”

    I think that this is absolutely true. It is both amazing and difficult to swallow. Gossip is definitely a byproduct of this system, but so are the ways in which perpetuate “school” in other ways. The ways in which we are taught influence so much the ways in which we teach. Especially if we have never learned within any other system.

    The questions I have is these: What does it take for someone to question the system that created them? Is it just realizing that what you have always done is no longer working? What does it take to stand up to not only the gossip, but the other ways in which our system is resolved to just keep on going?

    I don’t have answers to those questions, but they haunt me. Thank you for calling attention to this. I am glad you are standing up to this gossip, and I am glad you are looking for ways to change “school.”

    P.S. This comment is a part of the #C4C15 project. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/C4C15

  3. Nora

    It is true. People do like to gossip. It is rare that people are authentic and connected to their true selves, ‘their souls’ and are OK with sliding with the groups. In school environments that thrive on competition, we see interesting interactions. People use flattery to try to ‘win you one way or the other’ or they ‘rain on your parade’ because you may shine so much and hide their own light…Engaging in gossip makes some people, who are threatened, feel better about themselves. But light shines nevertheless. Therefore, isn’t it always better to collaborate to make that light shine brighter instead of trying to dim it? …
    It takes gut to challenge gossip and even more so to stand alone in the crowd. However, choosing the hardest thing is way better than standing on one’s dignity and not being true and authentic to what one values and believes in.
    According to Socrates, the martyr of truth: ‘Flattery is like friendship in show, not in fruition’… And ‘Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds, discuss events, weak minds discuss people.’
    It is great being part of a school community where educators inspire, not only their students, but each other to be the best they can. And you Chad, are an example of that.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Pingback: #C4C15: Time Space Education | Thinking and Re-thinking – Learning is Change

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