Learned Helplessness Results in “Willful Blindness”

Margaret Heffernan,an entrepreneur, CEO, writer and keynote speaker exposes the “dangers of willful blindness“. She states, “Freedom doesn’t exist unless you use it.”

In her TED talk “Dare to Disagree” Ms. Heffernan explains that although the data clearly showed “a child a week was dying” of cancer in a little town in Montana where vermiculite was being mined, “nobody wanted to know.”

“Openness alone can’t drive change.” explains Ms. Heffernan, “We have to be prepared to change our minds.”

“Organizations can’t think because the people inside them are too afraid of conflict.”

This is the dilemma we face within the Rochester City School District.

Central Office administrators are afraid of conflict with the superintendent, principals and vice-Principals are afraid of conflict with zone chiefs and teachers are afraid of conflict with principals.

As well, the district has worked diligently to place in positions of authority, individuals who are easily intimidated and ultimately silenced.

At the heart of this fear and practice of intimidation is the threat of loss.

For teachers, the loss of their job, choice of grade level or the loss of the room or school they’ve been working in for years is intimidating.

For principals it is the loss of position, title, and money. There is always the threat of being returned to the classroom.

Central Office administrators are threatened by superintendent changes which occur every two to four years.

The only threat to the superintendent position is the school board and their only threat is the voter.

As a society we have learned to “look out for number one” and that has created a disconnect from our humanity and nearly eliminated our power to unite for any good cause.

In the current system of education, children learn helplessness by not being held accountable for their learning, behavior, or success. They learn to be quiet to “get passed along”.

We must teach our children to be powerful, and break the cycle of “willful blindness” in order to raise the level of success for them and for us.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

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