LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Flexibility over commitment
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
I don't know where
Mark Thorson gets his ideas
from. When our schools delay their start for inclement weather, we are clearly teaching our students the importance of the following:
- Observing a situation (extreme cold weather)
- Orienting ourselves based on the circumstances (assess the status of bus diesel engines, road safety and driver availability with the transportation coordinator, assess additional student health risks with district staff)
- Deciding on a plan (two-hour delay)
- Acting on that plan (notifying the school district)
This flexible decision-making process is a classic concept used within the U.S. Military for the past 50 years. It is taught to military decision-makers from five-star generals and fighter pilots on down. If we don't teach our kids how to make flexible decisions under changing circumstances, then we are setting them up to be negatively impacted by big life events.
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As a hypothetical, since Mark likes to use hypotheticals to make his points, let's say that one of our Bemidji students grows up to be the owner and president of a local sand and gravel company.
He finds out that his supply of gravel is substandard for the federal and state highway contracts he has signed. If he hasn't learned how to adjust to changing circumstances and is stuck in a commitment mindset, he might not be able to find solutions to his quandary.
For example, he might not realize that he could source proper materials from other vendors or negotiate an extension on his deadlines.
In the end, he might end up using the substandard materials anyway and make false claims about the work done and rack up over a million dollars in fines for violating the federal and state False Claims Act. All because he didn’t learn how to adjust to life’s changing circumstances but instead was taught he needed to rigidly stick with his original commitments. We definitely don't want that to happen!
See how easy it is to make sense of the world when we deal in hypotheticals and lazy criticism?
I am grateful for the school district’s continued flexibility to ensure our children have a safe and comfortable learning environment. I pray that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will live in a world that provides them with even more comfort and safety.
That’s what we all desire, isn’t it? To make life more comfortable, more safe and more equitable for our future generations.