Question 75 of 365: What are the new Triple Dog Dares?

Ralphie
Image by abbey*christine via Flickr

I’m sure that A Christmas Story has been formative for many just as it was for me. I’m also sure that many have thought about the Triple Dog Dares that they have subsequently faced as a result of that iconic line of dialogue. But, I think most people stop thinking of the things they are doing because of “dares” at some point. There comes a time when they start believing that they do not have to worry about the Schwartz’s of the world.

And yet, I would like to make the case that we are all being Triple Dog Dared on a regular basis. I would like to state for the record that we can never get away from our own personal Schwartz’s. In fact, I believe that we are responsible for more tongues stuck to flagpoles at this moment than at any other in history.

Here are the dares that I believe we are faced with every day.

  • I Triple Dog Dare you to comment or respond.
  • I Triple Dog Dare you to hire/fire me.
  • I Triple Dog Dare you to learn something new.

We are daring one another to participate, to answer our e-mails or respond to our tweets. Our dares arise as we recycle each e-mail through our inboxes, constantly sending out more and more dares for response. We put tiny stresses on one another with these tiny little Triple Dog Dares. The flagpole we get stuck to in this dare is when the e-mails and tweets just sit there, when they fester in our inboxes and Tweetdecks. Our tongues are so attached to them that after months of putting off the most inopportune e-mail responses, we can’t really even communicate about the issues that are important to us.

We dare our superiors to fire us on a daily basis. While we may not actively want to get fired, we work really hard at pushing those around us to find out what we are doing that is not in the best interests of our business, district, or entity. We spend time distracted, dispassionate, or deluded into thinking that our work always reflects upon us well. We also dare our superiors to hire us each day as well. We work hard, apply ourselves and show off our daily accomplishments. We are constantly reapplying for our jobs in this case, even as we are trying to weasel out of them and find something else that is more to our liking. The frozen flagpole in this dare is the actual job we have. We get frozen into this pattern of fired and hired habits, forcing other people to write us off entirely as both incredibly useful and utterly useless for daily work and collaboration.

The last dare I feel on a daily basis is one that involves the persistent need for learning new things. It is an ever-present dare I feel from others, to become more knowledgeable about the things that they themselves need to know. The dare compounds until I have to dedicate time to becoming an expert on an assigned topic or anticipating the next thing that someone will ask of me. The pole I get stuck to is when I get so focused on learning for others and in anticipation of my later needs that I can’t completely focus on what it is that I’m supposed to be doing right now. Because the dare is to learn something new, I get stuck not resolving what I already know and applying it to what can be created with that knowledge.

Christmas Story or not, these Triple Dog Dares are very real for me. I have become my own worst Schwartz, as have the people around me. And I would like that to change.

I would like to not feel the stress of e-mail dares. I would like to let go of the need to be fired or learn new things just for the sake of learning them. I would like to be able to make my own (or at least manage my) stress and dare myself to be better than simply placing my tongue to a flagpole. I think that at some point I may be able to do that, but right now, I will live with my Triple Dog Dares.

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  1. I dare myself to live and operate in systems in which I do not believe.
    I know my district, by and large, isn't doing right by the kids and teachers in its care. I know this. I see the evidence in the newspaper articles and the stories of the students new to our school. Whenever our needs for support extend beyond the walls of our building, I see it in the bureaucratic responses we get that egg on more dares of perseverance.
    In life, I feel the dare every time I look at my moms. I've never, ever seen two people as in love as they are. Yet, I live in a system that denies that love, that tells them it's less than. Both have jobs in that system that build on the experiences and quality of life for others. They volunteer to help others in a way that I someday hope to achieve. Yet, they're in a system that says they're less than.
    The kids in my neighborhood are constantly dared to succeed by the same system that works to prevent that success. I know this. I see it. They're odds are lessened simply by living where they live. Still, for most of their lives, the play by the rules in hopes of being more than they're told they should.
    They've accepted the dare.
    I have too, I suppose. By working within a system in which I do not believe, I've accepted the dare. I'm a wily one, though.
    I'll accept the dare, but I reject the terms.

  2. I appreciate that you are willing to accept the dare and reject the terms. I
    kind of keep forgetting that its an option. I keep on forgetting that I can
    reject the consequences of the dare. That I can work within the system of
    e-mail overload and not have to lick the flag pole when I am finished. I can
    detach myself from my job, get fired or hired and still hold on to who I am
    at the end of it.

    I feel like the system itself is debatable, though. We can never fully
    accept what kinds of systems we are within because we are the system to a
    certain extent and we are changing it all of the time. I get your point
    about needing to work from within, but at the same time, we create our own
    cocoon like system so that we can feel sane within the larger set of
    supports that don't accept us. We simultaneously take the dare, and insulate
    ourselves from its consequences as much as possible. We lick the flagpole
    with a warm cup of water in our hands.

  3. I hadn't seen that video before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    I think that seat time is one thing that may be coming to the forefront of
    our discussions because of Online Schools. I went to a conference on Blended
    Learning last Thursday and every speaker was either calling for a different
    definition of seat time, or was speaking from experience in a place that had
    changed the definition.

    Consequently, you should watch this video on The School of One:
    http://schools.nyc.gov/community/innovation/Sch

  4. going to watch it right now…

    and you should see this… maybe you already have. http://www.edutopia.org/project-learning-overvi… – i love it.

    a connection i made this weekend – with a lady that's worked for edutopia for 10 years and is now in washington. (we met on ed.gov and i didn't realize she was famous, till we were into it.)
    she's meeting with the National Academy of Sciences on the standards, she says they want to do national standards so that credits, courses, and community efforts are viable all across the US and that online learning can truly be national.

    now is our time man. connections, timing, passion… = things that matter.

  5. by the way – that school of one video – has an incredible piece – the learning algorithm about 3min in to 4 min). i think that is huge.. we need to tap into that model. thank you for sharing it… my admin are eating it up.

  6. Yeah… I'm not sure that they have everything perfect on that yet, but I
    would love to put together an interesting flowchart and test out some ideas
    on learning. Zac Chase has really turned me on to the idea of a flowchart as
    a machine. You put an idea in at the top and if it gets through to where you
    want it to go, you can go ahead and build the machine. Thoughts?

  7. Yeah… I’m not sure that they have everything perfect on that yet, but Irnwould love to put together an interesting flowchart and test out some ideasrnon learning. Zac Chase has really turned me on to the idea of a flowchart asrna machine. You put an idea in at the top and if it gets through to where yournwant it to go, you can go ahead and build the machine. Thoughts?

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