Shifting Target #SOL2022 15/31

We’re driving back from the book store and I tell my husband, “Yesterday I was mad at this, and today I’m mad at that.” He’s listening to me, paying attention to the road, the traffic, and lights, and casually says, “Hmm. I wonder what you’ll be mad at tomorrow.” Hearing this, I flinch feeling reactionary and a defensive serge begins which I check and then settle into the idea with a smile thinking, “Yes! What hurt might surface tomorrow with this newly discovered anger?” I am really fortunate to have this human in my life. He helps me talk through my feelings regularly. He’s a feminist, he does all the household chores so I can focus on teaching, he believes me when I share, so there’s no need to mount a defense. But, my body (practiced in perceived assault) does.

My female friends often share their personal and collective anger. Maybe COVID has done this. Maybe it’s our age. We rant in WhatsApp chats and Google Meets, we vent and cry and listen. Sometimes we support one another with lessons or letters or love. These friends are mostly teachers and we are in the business of humanity, so our anger is bound up in everything we experience and everything we do. The personal is professional and the professional is personal. When you are in the business of humanizing educational systems someone or something inequitable or unjust becomes the target of our attention.

We are also in the business of communication, of language. We respond physically to political metaphors which don’t reflect the reality of experience. Take “pivot” for instance. Ask any current Ontario teacher about “pivoting” and I’m guessing they feel a visceral response to the term. We were told that the system will “pivot” during the pandemic and we were told that “systems are in place to make this work”. We, as part of that system, didn’t pivot. We contorted, distorted and twisted ourselves within an inflexible system that many wanted and still want us to return to; they want their version of “normal”.

When I heard Dr. Shawn Ginwright speak about his book, The Four Pivots, I wondered when this was published and if my colleagues might feel a reactionary cringe to the metaphor. I hope not. This book is important, and I think I might have figured out the difference in the metaphor, the difference between the political “pivot” and the social justice “pivot”.

The Ontario government, or more specifically the Minister of Education, Stephen Leece, used the pivot metaphor at the start of the pandemic to control a narrative, an inauthentic story born of expectations and demands rather than a lived experience. Dr. Ginwright uses four metaphors of pivots with beautifully crafted narratives of lived experiences threaded and woven into a tapestry for Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves. One pivot commands outward, the other pivot invites inward. One pivot transmutes, the other pivot transforms.

I am through the first few chapters: Pivot 1: From Lens to Mirror, Pivot 2: From Transactional to Transformative and am beginning Pivot 3: From Problem to Possibility. It feels like this book found me as I work through the chapter on Clarity and Belonging and my anger at the same time.

We get home from our errands and my husband says, “I see you working through this, and I know it’s important. Just don’t turn that anger in on itself. You’re not wrong for feeling this way. You’re not the target.”

13 thoughts on “Shifting Target #SOL2022 15/31

  1. Melanie, I love the way you share so honestly and also introduce her to your supportive husband. Remember “feelings aren’t right or wrong”. I think it’s important to voice those uncomfortable, embarrassing feelings we all harbor, but more importantly find a way through them Sounds like, with the help of your awesome hubby, you are doing just that. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bring married to a feminist is the best. I wish it for all women. Your husband is right: Your anger is righteous and justified. I love these lines most: “We, as part of that system, didn’t pivot. We contorted, distorted and twisted ourselves within an inflexible system that many wanted and still want us to return to; they want their version of “normal”. I share this anger, even though I’m retired. I’m trying not to feel the anger so much. Maybe I need to read that book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pivot is a word that I cringe at every time I hear it now. I could feel the seething as I read pivot!

    It does sound like a good book that you described. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is brilliant and complex. I feel that pivot has been used to manipulate individual and excuse poor decision making which leads to the anger when you are honestly attempted to achieve understanding and make a difference. The work of reimagining justice is hard, important work. Thank you for the book title.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your hubby is pretty great, truth be told. I love the way you presented this, and now – of course – I want to read the book. This line, “my body (practiced in perceived assault)” stood out to me, especially in its relationship to “We contorted, distorted and twisted ourselves within an inflexible system.” How physical our anger is, and how right G is to remind you (us) not to turn it in on ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this interesting post! I think I want to read the book, and I appreciate your sharing the link. One of my cringe words is when someone (So many people) start every response with: “so….”

    Liked by 1 person

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