As I was getting into my car this morning, getting ready to leave for work, my neighbor decided to make small talk. I like my neighbor, but his small talk is usually light on the small and heavy on the talk. I engaged. He told me all about the new truck he was getting that day. I played my part. “Wow, that sounds like a neat feature to have.” This went on for about five minutes.
As I finally pulled out of the driveway, I reflected on why I felt compelled to postpone all of the work I knew was waiting for me. I thought maybe I could have left, but that would have been rude. It just cannot be tolerated because I have to live next to this guy. It had damaged me in any way other than losing a few minutes, but I just kept thinking about it. I realized that I felt compelled to stand there and engage in a conversation that had little to no value to me because it is what society demands of me. I had a simple choice, be a part of the community in which I am or remove myself from that community.
When I think about the compulsion I had to engage in the conversation, I began to understand that we all do these polite engagements out of obligation to the communities we are a part of. How does this affect the way my school works? Do we all feel this sense of obligation? How can we use this innate social action to benefit students?
I decided to start looking at all of the behaviors of students in my building through the lens of community engagement. When that student pushes the other student, how does it impact the social structure of the school? What is the fight about? What has been gained or lost as a result of this interaction?
As I think more about this idea, I have started thinking that students take risks everyday. They have to engage or disengage in constant decisions that will impact their community and their standing in that community. Over the next few months, I am going to be mindful of these interactions and how the are manifest on my campus. My goal is to keep checking in and sharing my findings and feelings as I go. Wish me luck!