How I Handle Fights on Social Media

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In my nearly 10 years of observing or participating in social media arguments, I have yet to see more than a handful of people have a change of heart about their position BECAUSE of a social media argument or post. It seems that no matter how many links get posted, or data gets cited, or evidence gets presented to support one's position, I have concluded that most people are more interested in winning an argument than seeking understanding or truth. When most people argue online, they often resort to personal attacks and emotional appeals that are devoid of objective facts; then, when someone challenges them with a different perspective or evidence that refutes their arguments, more often than not, rather than acknowledging the error of their own logic or the unsoundness of their own arguments, most people seek to save their "social-media-face." They often deflect, change the subject, throw out more emotional appeals, spew forth more personal attacks, or disengage from the exchange completely. The one thing that I rarely see is someone saying, "You know what? You're right. I was wrong. Thank you for explaining that to me." Even writing that felt foreign to me! From my experience, most people on social media do not change their minds because of social media arguments.

Some of that is undoubtedly due to the fact that MOST of what one INTENDS to communicate on social media is limited in the worst ways: we can't make eye contact, hear vocal variety, show facial expressions, see body language, hear people's emotions, or see how people are being affected by what is being said, etc. Because of that, much of what is intended NEVER makes it into the head or heart of the intended interlocutor, and, as such, understanding becomes nearly impossible. Communication only takes place when a listener/reader UNDERSTANDS a speaker's/writer's message in the exact way the speaker/writer INTENDED IT. Therefore, most of what we call "communication" is little more than self-expression. What happens during internet arguments, more often than not, is feelings get hurt, and personal attacks get worse, and the distance between people becomes even greater. At that point, not only does communication become impossible, relationships between people are often ended. That's what makes internet arguments so disappointing and sad.

Because of these, and other realities, I have chosen to use my time and energy and social media platforms to help, teach, encourage, inspire, empower, unite and uplift people. Of course, I sometimes say things that are challenging, and that might even offend some people, but it is my hope that people understand that I would not intentionally demean, tear down, or villify anyone on purpose.

If, by chance, I do have a conflict with someone, I choose to address that challenge by dealing with REAL people face-to-face. I talk to REAL audiences face-to-face. I address hurtful or mean comments with people, in person, face-to-face. I confront bullies face-to-face. I try to diffuse misunderstandings in person, face-to-face. Trust me, I do it A LOT more than I ever talk about online. However, if I can't talk to someone in person, then I try to talk to them on FaceTime. Or, if I can't connect with them on FaceTime, then I try to talk with them over the phone (and not leave a long voicemail); or, if I can't get a real voice on the other end of the phone, then I text them and ask them to pick up the phone; if I can't get them to pick up the phone, then I might try to send an email requesting that we talk on the phone or face-to-face; if I can't connect via email, I might send an inboxed message to their social media account (to try to get on the phone). Of course, all this face-to-face talk presupposes that I think the issue is big enough to warrant a face-to-face encounter. If it does not, then I am neither talking about it online, nor am I trying to talk to the person face-to-face. I have chosen to pick my battles. I am too busy, and too much of what is intended gets lost, for me to be arguing with people online.

If we have an issue, I want to see you face-to-face, and look you in your eye, and listen to how you really feel and seek to understand your perspective; and, I would hope that my openness to really listen to your perspective, and my effort to understand you, would convince you to hear what I have to say. If I can't talk with you in person or on the phone without us having a mutual respect for one another, or without a sense that both of us are seeking to understanding one another, then I am not going to argue with you or anyone. If people only want to argue online, I am convinced that they have way too much time on their hands, they do not want to be understood, or want to understand. Perhaps they do not want to learn and grow, or they are not interested in helping others learn and grow. In any case, it's not an efficient use of my time to try to engage such people.

I can't tell you how to handle your conflicts. I can just tell you how I have chosen to handle mine: by talking to, and listening to, real people, face-to-face. If more of us did that, I believe we would have a lot less acrimony, a lot more understanding, and a much better world.

-Manny Scott

One Reason My Wife and I Choose to Homeschool Our Children

My wife and I chose to homeschool our children not only because I travel so much for work (300 days a year) and wanted to keep our family together, but also because we saw great value in the Classical model of education. The Classical model focuses on the the Trivium (“the three roads” of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Trivium also means, “The place where the 3 roads meet”). Grammar (the foundation of all learning) is giving the kids the basic building blocks of knowledge with which to work for the rest of their lives. Logic will equip them to analyze, evaluate and synthesize the knowledge they will have learned during their grammar stage. Rhetoric will give them the ability speak publicly, using their voices to communicate, debate, argue, and express themselves. The model we are using focuses less on testing and more on their development. In the Grammar stage, we are covering math, language arts, geography, history, science, and fine arts.


(Practicing a Speech with Manuel during his Grammar Lesson)

More specifically, in the Grammar stage (K-4), they are learning language, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts.
1. In Language Arts, they are learning to:
-Identify the 4 structures of sentences
-Identify the 4 purposes of sentences
-Identify the 7 patterns of a sentence
-Identify the 8 parts of speech.
-Identify any clauses or phrases in at least 2 languages.
-Write a keyword outline from multiple sources and synthesize into a single short essay.

2. In Math, they are learning to:
-Quickly multiply and divide through the 15x15 table.
-Memorize the common squares and cubes.
-Identify the associative, commutative, distributive, and identity laws in math 
-Add and subtract multiple digits in their heads
-Have mastered the basic forms of numbers.
-Not need a calculator until Trigonometry.

3. In Geography, we are learning to:
-Draw a map of the world and label 200 locations from memory.
-Draw a map of the US and name states and capitals.

4. In History, we are learning to:
-List a timeline of 160 world events and 45 US Presidents from memory
-Tell the story of the world from ancient to modern times in an exciting, compelling,
informed way.

5. In Science, they will be able to:
-Identify basic science categories, and memorize key ideas from:
-Earth sciences
-Computer science/coding

6. In Fine Arts, they are learning to:
-Draw and paint
-Identify masters of fine arts including composers, painters, and even athletes.
-Play an instrument
-Participate in sports.

In the Logic stage (5th-8th), our children will be able to analyze, evaluate and synthesize the knowledge they have learned during the grammar stage. In the Rhetoric stage (9th-12th), they will be able to speak publicly about these and any other topics, using their voices to communicate, debate, argue, and express themselves with clarity, conviction, and power.

Although my wife and I only plan to homeschool our children until Middle School, we will supplement their learning to make sure they learn Logic and Rhetoric.  

For now, when I am home, we homeschool from 6:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. I get the afternoons to focus on my own studies and work. When we are on the road, we usually homeschool in hotel rooms from about 7A.M. to 12 P.M., and then go sightseeing, and experience something that is somehow related to history or the arts. With everything else on our plates, of course homeschooling our children  has been a sacrifice and time consuming. However, it has been so fulfilling and wonderful to watch our children flourish in so many ways: they are reading two grade levels ahead of their grades, respectively; in math, one is at grade level and the other two are a ahead by one year; and, they are developing social and entrepreneurial skills in context, outside of the classroom. 

We are grateful to have been entrusted with such outstanding children, and for the opportunity to cultivate them in such a personalized way.

Upcoming Event: ASCD’s Empower 18 in Boston, MA


Some Kids Don’t Need “Grit;” They Need Healing

In education circles, there is a lot of talk about "Grit" and having a "Growth Mindset" these days.  There are a lot of admistrators and teachers convinced that their kids need to have more "grit." Angela Duckworth, the main proponent of “Grit," defines grit as "passion and perseverance for very long term goals." In other words, grit is passion and perseverance over a long period of time to achieve one’s goals. According to this definition, grit is specifically related to the achievement of goals.

During my presentation, "The Power of One," I sometimes talk about some of the trauma of my past, and assert, "sometimes kids don't need grit; they need healing." Well, recently, a very nice principal pulled me aside and respectfully challenged my thinking about grit. He said, "Manny, it takes grit to heal.”  His statement challenged me to clarify my thinking about the relationship between grit and healing.

Here are my brief thoughts on the matter. 

While I certainly agree that in order to achieve goals in school, work and life, students must develop "grit" (passion and perseverance over the long haul), I am convinced that several students have been so traumatized, victimized, and hurt that it is impossible for them to think about goals related to school, work, or life. For many of them, it is nearly impossible for them to even fathom “the long haul.” I used to really believe that I would be dead or in jail before I was 18 years old.  Many students are just trying make it through the night and don’t even have the capacity to see beyond their current circumstances. Many of them are trying to figure out how they are going to make it through the sexual abuse they are about to experience tonight.  Many of them are grieving over the loss of their best friend who just committed suicide yesterday. Some can’t get past the trauma of seeing their mother’s brains blown out with a shotgun and having to clean the brain and skull fragments off of their faces while cradling their dead mother in their arms. I could go on and on with stories like this.  For those kids, I am convinced that it is not grit that they need, but healing (through therapy or counseling or journaling or some other means of support). I believe it is therapy or counseling that helps traumatized people heal enough to even begin setting goals and dreaming big. It is counseling and therapy that gives them the skills to persevere, and frees them to find their passions. It is healing that frees people to develop grit.

So, my contention is that it does not “ take grit to heal,” but rather it takes “healing (or therapy) to have grit,” or, put another way, “grit is improbable without healing.” I believe healing should/must precede grit for many traumatized, victimized children. To be sure, I have certainly had to have grit to overcome many of the obstacles of my past to achieve the level of success I now enjoy.  I have had to have grit to become the first person in my family to graduate from high school. I had to have grit to graduate from college and graduate school. I had to have grit to learn how to fly planes. I have had to have grit to become the faithful husband and loving father I am today. I have had to have grit to grow my education consulting/speaking business.

From my experience, however, if it had not been for God and loving adults (pastors, teachers, counselors, coaches) who came into my life to help me heal from my hurts, I have no doubt that I would have been dead or in jail. My healing PRECEDED my grit. My healing freed me to have grit. My healing freed me to dream big and and set goals, and to develop the passion and perseverance to achieve those goals and dreams.  So yes, while I have no doubt that grit is an indispensable part of achievement and personal growth, healing, in my opinion, is the foundation upon which grit is built. 

So, I end where I began: Some students don't need grit; they need healing.

What do you think?