Words Of A Feather Do Not Flock Together


(Image courtesy of Media from Wix)


Like any story told to any eight-year-old, this one begins with the famous words: Once upon a time. In a village in eastern Europe, a scholar came to a town. The scholar was hungry and took an apple from the local fruit stand. A woman saw her take the fruit without paying and told everyone she was a thief. Unbeknownst to the woman, the scholar was friends with the fruit provider and had already paid for the apple. Consequently, when the town believed what the woman said, no one believed the scholar was a credible source of information.



(Image courtesy of Media from Wix)


The woman went by the fruit peddler and told him about the crime. He told the woman that the scholar was an old family friend who gave him money when she first got into town for fruit. The woman was horrified and went to the scholar to apologize.



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The scholar told the woman to come to meet her on the hill overlooking the town and bring a feathered pillow. The scholar said the woman took the feathers from the pillows and threw them in the air. Once in the air, the scholar told the woman to catch all the feathers. The woman tried but finally said it was impossible to see every feather. The scholar said words are like these feathers; once they are in the air, it's impossible to rescind what you said.



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My friends and I were told this fable many times growing up. But, I want to add a footnote to this story. I want to tell you the story of how Gen Z views "feathers."



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I was recently discussing this concept with some people. Let's call these neighbors Albert and Camila. Albert told me how he was a teacher at a local community college. I asked him, " Al, how are students from the beginning of your career different from your current students?" Albert answered how current students are so afraid to fail that they stifle any ounce of individuality or creativity in the pursuit of being correct. I followed up and asked him why he believed this was the case. He answered by blaming students for changes in the educational sphere due to an increase in technological reliance. Camila offered a solution when she said that parenting styles are to blame for students' overreliance on needing to be correct.



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I want to offer my theory. A child sees the world in terms of opposites: right and wrong, up and down, etc. The older a person becomes, that person begins to have eye-opening experiences and see nuance. Great people can make mistakes, and bad guys can make good decisions.




Yet, in our current world, there is a disconnect. We can no longer see how there are truths in lies or pure intentions in wrong decisions. We live in an environment where a person has to see anything a certain way. Technology has made feathers concrete. Students are not afraid of being wrong; they are scared their feathers will boomerang into poisonous darts, destroying future opportunities. Students who have internalized the story's lesson understand the consequences of their words. So the next time a person assumes a person born after 1997 is a conformist thinker, instead see that person has someone who understands the power words have over them.




(Image courtesy of Media from Wix)

Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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