Editor’s Column: July 28, 2020

Listen to this post

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so grateful for teachers. I’m friends with a number of my high school teachers on Facebook and we interact fairly often. I respect what they have to say. They’re still teaching me. I think, if you’re a teacher, you can’t help it. You just keep teaching. 

Former Meeker teacher Elaine Jordan exemplified that this week. She sent me an email about my faulty interpretation of “neo” as it related to the NEOWISE comet, and I’m so glad she did!

For 30 years, I’ve been operating on an incorrect interpretation of the Greek/Latin prefix “neo”… I think it may have stemmed from being in labor with kid one and trying to define the word “neonatal.” It seemed logical that neonatal meant “after” birth or “post” birth, and for whatever reason, I never had occasion to check my conclusion. 

“Neo” actually means “new.” (Lots of you know this already, and my comprehension of the Matrix movies has just been transformed.) 

I strive to remain teachable, whether it’s learning new technology (I now fully understand why my parents refused to learn how to program the clock on the VCR) or redefining a long-held opinion, or applying new information to my overall worldview. As a reporter, I find that I often go into a story with preconceived notions and come out with a whole new perspective. It’s one of the best parts of this job — I’m always learning. 

That leads me to this question: what definitions, what assumptions, what conclusions are we clinging to that are wrong and we don’t even know because they’ve never been challenged?

Growing up in the Archie Bunker era, comments disguised as “jokes” — racist, sexist and otherwise discriminatory — were considered humorous.

A lot of you can relate, whether the comments (jokes) were about race or gender or sexuality or fill-in-the-blank. Here’s the question… do we continue to believe what we overheard growing up, or do we choose to be teachable? Will we perpetuate that thinking to the next generation, or can we learn new ways of thinking? I like to think we can. 

This week, find a long-held belief and challenge it. Test it. Does it hold water? If it doesn’t, take a deep breath and let your mind expand. It feels good, like a full body stretch after you’ve been sitting down too long. 

And on the subject of teachers as we prepare to send them to the front-line during COVID-19, please know you have our support, and if there are things we can do to help, just ask. 

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com