Uncovering so-called ‘truths’

It’s been two weeks since I last published a post. All I can say is I’ve been very busy, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But I’m not going to make this a habit; I do plan to continue updating my blog weekly, like I’ve done so far. In case anyone was very worried. Or noticed.

One of the things that has kept me busy lately is teaching, and yesterday I taught what must have been my most inspirational class so far, at least for me. I’m teaching a course in HRM (human resource management) and this particular lecture was on power and control in organizations, and who knew that this would really make the students tick. They had so many insightful thoughts and comments that they shared with me and I have to say, I really enjoyed our dialogue.

But what was most interesting was our discussion on so-called ‘truths’. We were talking about the societal structures and systems in which we are embedded; structures and systems that we take for granted and that we have lost the ability to question or even see – much less change – because they have become ‘truths’. It’s the things we think of as obvious, natural, or common sense, partly because we think that’s they way they have always been. But let me tell you something, they haven’t always been that way and they aren’t natural; people have created them. They aren’t meant to be, they are just the way we have assumed things should be done for as long as we can remember.

Now I asked my students to think of so called ‘truths’ in society, things we take for granted, and to think about whether or not they have to be truths and whether things could be done differently. This was the absolute best part of the whole class. Time just ran out too quickly and I’m thinking of dedicating a whole lecture to this in the future, because it is just so interesting. But here are some of the things they came up with:

  • Growth and productivity are not necessarily something to strive for.
  • The concept of de-growth is interesting, but de-growth as a word is problematic because we will always continue growing and evolving as people and societies. You can’t unlearn or ‘undevelop’, you can only go forward. So even if your goal is not to continuously grow, it still doesn’t involve regressing to a previous state.
  • Careers do not have to progress upwards. They can go forwards, backwards, sideways…
  • Women are not necessarily family oriented. However men might be.
  • The way we teach in schools is not necessarily the best way to teach. It might not be providing us will the skills we really need. We need to question our education system.
  • Democracy may not be the best way. We need to come up with a new system because if we continue the way we are society is going self-destruct.

You get the idea.

I was pleased of course because my students and I shared an interest and we engaged in a really meaningful discussion. But what pleases me even more is that they are so open to thinking critically and questioning the status quo. I sincerely hope that they retain this ability once they embark on their careers and become assimilated in organizational working cultures. Because this is something that we should all do more of. Whenever something is obvious, whenever we know something to be true, we should all stop and question. We need to ask ourselves – and each other – why? Why does it have to be that way? And the fantastic thing is that it doesn’t. It doesn’t have to be that way, we only thought it did. And that my friends, that is how change comes about. Change for the better.

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