Bumper Sticker Thinking: it makes perfect sense if you don’t really think about it

As I scroll through my social media, each day I run across “bumper sticker thinking” posts. You know what those are, right? A quote or saying that seems to make even the most frustrating topics so simple. So easy. “yah, just do that, try that!” And you read it, get your shot of dopamine and move on. UNLESS.

Unless that post gets legs. By that, I mean that lots of people see it, get that shot of happy-brain-hormone dopamine and Like the post. And Share the post. And comment something in the affirmative. Then the post gets legs. And it might even eventually become viral, being seen by thousands, each reading the simple solution or affirmation, and spreading the bumper-sticker-thinking like a creeping virus.

A while back, I saw a post that had grow legs. And it said, “Teach from your feet, not your seat.” And at first, that seems to make sense. Yes. Be active. Be moving. Don’t just sit around…you lazy teachers. I’m not lazy. I’m better than those who sit because I’m standing and moving. Yeah. I think I’ll share this! 

Who can disagree?

But then I thought about it for a moment longer. And I’m not sure I can agree.

You see, I like to create student-centered, democratic classrooms where the teacher isn’t the focus but that the work the students are doing is. That means that I may not be standing and pontificating at the students, like hardly ever.

It might mean that I’m sitting right next to them, shoulder to shoulder, talking closely and individually, based on what that child needs. It might mean that I’m an embedded participant in my own classroom. It might mean that because my students are truly engaged, I don’t have to walk and stand next to them at regular intervals to keep them on task. It might mean that our furniture is something other than desks in rows and I can pull a chair up next to almost any child in the classroom. Sitting might be the only way to have a personal conversation with an individual or small group. Sitting might be better than standing. It is in my classroom. 

Do I wholly disagree with the bumper sticker quote? Not necessarily. I’m sure there are situations where it is 100% accurate.

But that’s the problem with bumper sticker thinking: it’s not always accurate if you think a little longer beyond your first reaction.

So today when you see quotes that come across your Facebook, Twitter, or Insta feeds, I am encouraging us all to think a little longer and to consider a little deeper. Truly ponder the type of classroom you want to have with the kids you currently serve and consider the educators we want to be.

Because we’re not only spending our lives becoming the educators we want to be…we’re also spending our kids’ lives. Let’s make it worth it. 

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Written by GingerLewman

  1. Interesting perspective, Ginger. I think we would all be better off if we also spent much less time on social media and more time being present where we actually are!

    • Thanks for visiting, Kevin. I agree that the right here, right now is vital in building strong relationships with those around us. As humans, we so sorely need those connections.
      AND I also do love connecting beyond my physical reach because I’m a learner and can have ready access to a variety of ideas and concepts that I might never have considered before. And because I’m an educator, I will always ask students to also be learners. To learn from more than just my immediate surroundings to get a broader view of the world and all in it…and to become active citizen/participant in the broader world. And to do so with intention. And as an educator, I will be a role model in showing the way. I will be an attendant on the digital playground that kids are on, so at least some of us are always on duty alongside them.
      In 2018 and beyond, I believe we need (and want) both.
      Thanks for participating in the conversation! <3

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