Quiet wisdom is often the best kind. It is the ability to shut out what doesn’t matter, and focus on what is truly important. It is in picking and choosing those things we advocate for, not based upon their current status, but rather on their actual value to ourselves and those around us.
It is the ability to not buzz at a constant rate, and the ability to stop the incessant chatter that seemingly comes with all communication. In this quiet wisdom there is profound knowledge and learning.
But, you have to look for it. In every meeting, in every classroom, this quiet wisdom and soft advocacy becomes clear when you look around.
And I had a chance to look around the other day. What I saw was Josh Allen, our IT Director, thinking about contemplating, and then making a move.
He was contextualizing our conversation, allowing us to see it from multiple perspectives. It is clear that he has cultivated this capacity over time, and it is intentional and filled with purpose.
When I sit across the room from Josh I know he is thinking. I know that he is going deep into the subject at hand pulling out the nugget of truth. In a conversation about whether or not to support particular tools, Josh does not advocate being everything to everyone. Rather, Josh and his team advocate for just the right choices. Creating the right amount of support and just the right balance between strategic and tactical planning. In the quiet wisdom of this space, we can have debate because we know it is balanced and deeply contemplated.
All of this, however, makes me wonder about just how much quiet and cautious attitudes are promoted or questioned in our learning institutions. Do we too often shut out the quiet voices, the voices that aren’t humming and buzzing constantly? Are we too obsessed with process or politics to allow for the wisdom of reflection to seep in? Do we judge those who don’t speak often, instead believing that sustained change can only come from those who speak each and every time a question is asked?
I hope not. I hope that we are cultivating the same respect for quiet collaboration and contemplation, as we have for those can speak their mind at a moments notice. I hope that we give it time and space for those who are interested in making an impact only when they truly see an opportunity, rather than at every touch point imaginable.
I hope that we are cultivating this in our students, not only allowing those who raise their hands to dictate what is learned in the classroom.
Participation and wisdom are not the same thing. Judgment and good judgment are not equal. I think if we look around and recognize the quiet wisdom around us, we will all be better for it.