Letter from a parent

Yesterday I stumbled upon a fantastic website (https://personalexcellence.co/blog/great-minds/) that discusses human behavior, communication, and how to be a better person.  I was struck by the quote:

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” (Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.)

Because the author of the blog did such a great job of discussing the quote and the fact that it directly applies to the current ProCA Coalition, and Columbus Academy Administrators & Board situation, I copied the following directly from the site and then discuss implications and how to move forward afterwards.

From: https://personalexcellence.co/blog/great-minds/

“What does it mean?”

Let’s start by defining “ideas,” “events,” and “people.” Discussing people here means to talk about a person, typically in a negative, gossipy way. Discussing events means to talk about the events happening around the world. Discussing ideas means to understand the higher-level messages behind an event, to understand human behavior, to look beyond what’s given, and to find solutions to help the world.

“Small Minds Discuss People”

When the quote says, “Small minds discuss people,” it means that those who discuss people as an end to itself are shallow. Unfortunately, a fair segment of the media and our population today dedicate themselves to discussing people. You have tabloid magazines, celebrity gossip sites, and people who follow celebrity gossip like it is the central goal of their lives. Office politics is not uncommon. People backstab and criticize each other more often than we like. Even our politicians today make personal attacks and conduct smear campaigns. Online, we often see people shaming or attacking each other, or worse still, others supporting such behavior and joining in the attack, rather than taking a higher ground.

“Average Minds Discuss Events”

When you switch from discussing people to events, there is an improvement because you look beyond people and focus on events. There is an element of objectivity as you’re now looking at facts, figures, and occurrences. Yet it is a logical fallacy to think that just discussing events makes us smarter.

Firstly, many news stories (depending on where you live) are heavily censored according to the publication’s ideology and alliances. In some countries, the government controls the media. So, when you’re reading the “news,” you’re really reading news created/selected to fit what the publication wants you to know, along with filtered comments and angled statistics. Something to consider when you think that you’re being educated by reading a particular news channel — it’s more likely that you are being conditioned.

Secondly, news channels tend to sensationalize and report what is shocking. In internet terms, “clickbait.” As the saying goes, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” Hence even though there are one billion possible things to report each day, including countless positive stories and consciousness-raising events, the selected stories are rarely the most important, but some of the most negative, fear-based stories you can find.

Thirdly, even though we may be shocked by a grisly murder that just happened, we have to bear in mind that murderssuicides, crimes, and even war happen every single day. But when you read the news, your attention gets directed to that one crime or that one murder. Or when a news channel repeatedly highlights the crimes that happen in a country, it creates the notion that the place is highly unsafe, when 99.999% of its people get by perfectly safely each day.

In the process of being caught in fear/anger/shock, we miss the bigger picture. The irony is that by thinking that we educate ourselves by reading the news, we are isolating our minds and painting an extremely skewed image of the world and associating it with fear and terror, yet missing the whole point which is, “What can we do to solve the issues we see?”

“Great Minds Discuss Ideas”

This brings us to the last point.

As someone becomes more curious about the world and looks beyond what’s immediately visible, they start to talk about not just people or events, but ideas.

  • Why people do the things they do. What drives them;
  • Why issues like murder, mass shootings, war, and crimes are happening. What we can do to prevent such violence;
  • How we can uplift others;
  • How we can improve as people;
  • World issues, because we’re not just citizens of a country but a citizen of the world;
  • Whether the direction we’re moving in, as a society, as a world, is actually good for us;
  • And most important of all, ideas to improve the world.

Discussing ideas means not just taking what is presented to you, but digging deeper. Understanding root causes. Understanding how something came to be. Questioning realities. Identifying solutions.

This quote is of course meant as a generalization. People and events are often proxies to discuss ideas. We look upon people like Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr., Buddha, Bill Gates, etc. as inspirational figures for change. We discuss people as a way to understand each other. Discussing events helps us grow in awareness; current affairs is a way to learn about the world. If something just happened in my life and I share this with a friend, that’s part of conversation, of relating to each other.

The problem comes when we talk about people or events as an end to itself. This quote reminds us that when we bad-mouth others, gossip, or follow the news reactively, it doesn’t bring us anywhere. Complaining or chit-chatting about people/events endlessly will not change our lives or make us smarter.

But focusing on ideas for change, it will. Assuming that we act on them, of course.”

Now to my thoughts relating to the situation at Columbus Academy:

How does this apply to the situation we have at Columbus Academy?

Dialog – PCAC has asked for dialog of ideas and the Columbus Academy Administrators and Board refuse.  Put a period on it. Done.

Respect – The way CA has gone after the character of people with differing opinions is mind boggling:

  • Police Called, Informational Report filed (Why?)
  • FBI Called (Supposedly)
  • Bomb sniffing dogs (Why?)
  • Administrators, possibly illegally, “Zoom bombing” a PCAC meeting they were not invited to with nasty handles (screen names) and interfering and debasing a communication effort.
  • Spreading fear and panic among students and staff.
  • Insinuating the Columbus Academy Twitter account was ‘hacked’ by a PCAC member with no proof or even a hint of how they could have done it.  They skipped over the fact there is a student directory that has most of those emails in it already that could have been used.

Transparency –  PCAC has been very transparent about what information they want to talk about, but the Columbus Academy Administrators and Board remain silent.

Small Minded People: People.  Columbus Academy Administrators refuse to talk about the ideas, but attack the character of the people in PCAC.  Why?  It begs the question, ‘Are the facts too damning for CA Administrators and the Board to discuss openly and honestly?’

Average Minded People: Events.  Columbus Academy cherry-picks events and has taken many of them out of context to instill fear and panic among the staff, students, and even teachers! (Goes back to “Small Minded People) 

Great Minded People: Ideas.  PCAC wants to discuss ideas.  In this case the only one discussing these  ideas are Amy and Andrea on behalf of a much larger PCAC!  Are the Administrators and Board members too “Small Minded” to discuss the ideas?  Are the ideas held by Columbus Academy Administrators and Board so fragile they don’t hold up under scrutiny?

It has become unequivocally clear that those running the school at this time are not ‘Great Minded People’.  You don’t have to believe me, believe what your eyes see regarding how the Columbus Academy Administrators and Board have reacted and continue to react to this situation:

Refusal to discuss and positively engage PCAC regarding what is going on with our children in the classroom with respect to CRT and Cultural Competency.

Refusal to discuss curriculum being taught to our children.

Refusal to be transparent with how tuition is being spent.

Refusal to be transparent about teacher in-servicing and indoctrination.

Refusal to acknowledge that there is a differing point of view.

Refusal to take a nonpartisan alumnus up on mediating a conversation between PCAC and Columbus Academy Administrators and Board.

Refusal to include all stakeholders including teachers that disagree with current initiatives in nonthreatening dialog.

“Zoom Bombing” a meeting they were not invited to and using rude names as handles (They didn’t present any idea or talk about any ideas to move forward any discussions between the two parties.

Etc the list is pages long!

I keep hearing from those that promote CRT and Cultural Competency, as well as teachers from Columbus Academy that teach my children,  that we need to discuss and have a dialog about race in our society and schools – THAT is what “Great Minded People” do.  However, I only see the PCAC trying to have that exact discussion, and the Administrators and some of the Board at Columbus Academy not only refusing to talk about any of it, but going so far as to harass and intimidate our students and parents, spreading falsehoods about who PCAC is and what PCAC would like to talk about, and much more!   In short, PCAC members are acting as “Great Minded People”, whereas the current Administrators and Board are acting exactly as “Small Minded People.”

If, and until, BOTH sides come together to resolve this, continued harm from current practices will come to the most vulnerable amongst us – our children at Columbus Academy.  If the Administrators and Board cannot, or will not, move this dialog forward, as “Great Minded People” should do, then it is time to replace said Administrators and Board members with “Great Minded People” that are willing to include all stakeholders and not push forward an agenda that does not take into account all stakeholders at Columbus Academy.