I Don’t Have an Opinion on That
February 01, 2024
Appears in February 2024: School Administrator.
Lately I have found myself repeatedly in situations where the person I am talking to expects me to share his or her level of passion for a particular topic when I don’t have any opinion on it.
I know strong opinions are popular these days. In the media, individuals from different perspectives talking over each other are common. Few exchanges seek understanding of the opposite views. There’s an important lesson in this as we need to teach students the value of taking a position that’s supported with evidence, not opinion.
At times, it is OK to not have an opinion. There seems to be a rush to assume we all should have opinions on everything. Every issue is a litmus test for whether you are “for” or “against” us (whoever the us is in the situation).
I appreciate that part of being a community leader, and a key aspect of the superintendency, is taking stances. But must we take positions on everything, especially when the topic might not be related to education? While I regularly express views through my blog and elsewhere on hundreds of issues — from promoting safe, caring and welcoming schools for all students to the importance of the arts and athletics in education — when someone says I need to take a stand on issue X, I ask myself, “Do I really need to take a stand on issue X?”
You can hold true to personal values. We can perhaps act on Martin Luther King’s expression, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people,” by being a little more thoughtful when we share opinions on something.