Lizard Brain Trust.










I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I most always guess; and, tend to live by intuition, and gut instinct. That doesn’t mean that I make decisions based on my lizard brain (most of the time). My decisions are based on a cultivated mix of experience, heart, soul, data, intelligence, and reflection. There are some lessons I cannot learn–for example, I tend not to accept when people willingly choose to use their lizard brains to make decisions, contrary to the mounting evidence. We are living in lizard-brain times. Here  are my data to support this theory:

  • Previously rationale people are behaving in a greedy, narrow-minded way
  • Previously rationale people are becoming more racist, bigoted, and homophobic
  • Previously rationale people are dividing, polarizing and making a general nuisance of themselves
  • Previously rationale people seem to be enjoying fanning the flames of ridiculous rhetoric and hate

My gut tells me that:

  • Humans, and humans-in-the-making, love good stories; and given a good story, will work to learn to decode the symbols of text in order to access those good stories independently, with meaning and strength. They will spend precious, irretrievable time to do this. And those who provide access to those good stories step back and marvel at this miracle.
  • No amount of technology will close an achievement gap without the dedicated educator to roll up their shirt-sleeves and build the bridge alongside others. It takes everyone to close this gap. Everyone. No sides, no distinctions. The leaders whom I admire most inspire me to inspire others. It’s that simple. (And if you’re not interested in closing the gap, mind it, because you might fall in!)
  • Not all textbooks are inherently “evil.” (In spite of contrary evidence of what the Texas Department of Education is trying to do. I know – ever the optimist.) Sometimes a well-written anthology and curriculum can be just the kick-start for a new teacher trying to get his bearings, so he can learn to manage a classroom, meet the demands of differentiation, and maintain the passion that inspired him in the first place to become a teacher. We know we don’t do it for the money, and if that makes us martyrs, more pure, more wholesome, more generous than thou, well, man cannot live on bread alone. We need a little hubris to spread on it, too.
  • Message to those esteemed colleagues who want a revolution: I’m with ya, buddy. My question is, though, can everyone be  rock-star teacher? We need the roadies, too. (Sheesh – how many metaphors can I mix in this mess? Start counting.) I now have John Lennon’s Revolution strumming in my head. Thanks. But who else would rhyme Mao with how?

My lizard-brain wants more coffee. I have two days of spring break this year, rather, we have two days of spring break, because of the strike earlier in the year, and I agree that my students deserve and need all 180 days of their education (again, despite evidence to the contrary). And I will bear the complaints of friends and family who tell me they work much harder than I do without any break, so I should shut up and stop complaining. Okay. Being a teacher was a wide-eyed, open-minded, cerebral-cortex decision. So, you got me there. However, none of us are going to succeed in getting what we want, and getting what we need, if we don’t start backing up and demonstrating a little more mutual respect, dignity, and compassion to one another. At least that’s what my gut tells me.