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The red pill, or the blue pill?

by Rebecca Thomas

Rarely you read a post on social media that doesn’t try to sway you into an academic research camp of some kind. Comments that follow these posts contain and compare a range of perspectives, either inviting you in and supporting the desired effect, or being strongly opposed to what lies within.

Reading these posts with a little distance feels like we are being asked to make a choice. A tug of war ensues. We either believe the rhetoric or are told we are ignorant. It’s like we must make a choice. Structured Literacy or Balanced Literacy, Play Based Learning or not Play Based Learning, to read at five or read at 8, to home-school or not, ability group or not, to be or not to be…you know the drill.

Which rabbit hole will we choose to go down? Which will lead to the truth?

The Red Pill

The willingness to learn life-changing knowledge and be awakened to the truths within; reserved for those who have figured out the illusion of the Matrix. This path encourages critical thinking, science, and reasoning.

The Blue Pill

Remaining in contented ignorance; leaving us as we are in simple belief and blind faith that we hold as truth. Emotional decision making.

The concept above being, if you want to transform your world you must identify how you’ve been programmed, then decide if you wish to reprogram yourself.

Is it really that simple?

Teaching is and always has been a complex and variable business, therefore the answers must also be variable and complex. Should we be swayed one way, or the other?

A wise conversation with an experienced principal today explained that she will always back and fund her staff 100% if they conclude that whatever they read, researched, and surmised will fit the students in front of them at that moment in time. She told me that sometimes as teachers we have to dig deep within ourselves to overcome obstacles and challenges before, we are drawn to ‘what happens over there, should work here’ thinking.

She is right.

Maybe different Neos taken from different points in time would make different choices about the blue and the red pill? Maybe a different Neo never bumps into Morpheus? Maybe Neo spends more time reflecting on his decisions before he is convinced to choose?

The realm of possibilities.

Personal reflection is what will help us make the best decisions for our students in front of us. Knowing how busy we all are, when do we stop and reflect?

My personal reflection for the educational community reading this is that our children who are in front of us RIGHT NOW need us to be the best we can be, RIGHT NOW. Anyone who makes their way into teaching knows that this common denominator unites us all.

Spend our energies sharing our experiences, our voices, our challenges, so that others can share in our journey instead of being asked to choose. Share your voices with each other and unite, instead of forming camps and divisions; model the behaviours we wish to see in our tamariki.

It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. Just imagine what a whole army of butterflies can do if they beat their wings together.

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