I'm a Poet and I Know It

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I'm a Poet and I Know It

Postby HeatherLyke » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:42 pm

In the chapter of Shaping School Culture: Pitfalls, Paradoxes, and Promises that we read a few weeks ago, I was not sure which of the eight best classified me. There were a few I knew I was not--at least not to the full extent: I am certainly not the Anthropological Sleuth nor the Healer. But as I read the words of Deal and Peterson, I felt myself identifying with six of the eight identified roles. Could that be? Could I play six different roles?

However, as the days rolled along after finishing my reading, I have come to realize that I am primarily a Poet.

This first came to light when I was listening to a coworker vent about an issue at her building: I found myself struggling with her interpretation because her perception of the situation was pure black and white, when in reality there were a lot of shades of grey that she was ignoring. I found myself wondering if perhaps a metaphor--or at least more precise diction--would have served her better. Furthermore, this later triggered some thoughts about our SE MN Ed MN rep, who always frustrates me when he speaks about politics: always painting Democrats as the saviors of Education. Can anything political be this simple? I have seen how his simple, all-consuming sentences have kept teachers from becoming union leaders (one of our best, former union advocates is now only a fair-share member because he is a Republican who grew tired of being perceived as anti-education simply because of who he votes for). I can't help but wonder how much stronger our union would be if this one union leader were more careful with how he worded things.

It's not only how critical I am of other's words that made me realize that I am indeed a poet--I've since started to really listen to myself. Have you ever noticed how often I use metaphors to "provide 'picture words' that consolidate complex ideas into a single, understandable whole" (211)? Once I started paying attention, I realized that I do it all the time. Metaphors, similes, analogies, parallel structure, anaphora, kennings--my arguments are made fuller by them. And not only do I use them--they stick. I mean, we here in C&I still refer to ourselves as Hawaii because of that off-the-cuff metaphor I made at our meeting back in September.

I wonder if I have begun to "reinforce the magical values and beliefs of teaching and learning" (212). Do my word pictures "[capture] imagination, [engender] loyalty, and [secure] external resources and support" (212) as Deal and Peterson say they will? I sure hope so.
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Dave Pugh
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Re: I'm a Poet and I Know It

Postby Dave Pugh » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:29 pm

I think the ability to paint word pictures is essential in a leader, and I agree with you that it is a gift you model very well. I often get tongue-tied when trying to explain using the right words -- my vocabulary is much more limited than yours. If I can find a good analogy it is a huge help to me. It lets me paint complex situations with simpler words. I suppose a word picture or analogy is also helpful when communicating with people who have a smaller vocabulary.

I think Reagan's popularity came from his ability to paint pictures with words. Unfortunately not all his pictures defined an accurate reality (i.e. the welfare mom trying to have more children to collect more welfare). He was also one of the more black and white thinkers. I wonder if he would be considered a moderate in todays "JET BLACK" or "GLARING WHITE" extremes.

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