The Fastest Way to Drain Energy from a School

In a recent post (December 15th, Lost and Found) on Quiddity, Andrew brought the idea to my attention that schools are sustained by three “life forces”: (1) money, (2) energy, and (3) goodwill.

It made me think…

While Andrew discussed how to sustain these through communication, etc. (check out the post), I began to ponder: “What is the fastest way to drain a school of these rivers of school life?” The first answer that came to my mind may be the right answer: parental gossip. Here’s why.

Parental gossip at a school strikes at all three.

  • It compromises the goodwill of a school by questioning the validity of proper channels of communication and arousing suspicion.
  • It drains the energy of a school by devaluing teachers, administration, and even other parents by not focusing energy in a constructive way and distracting the energy of others.
  • And, ultimately, can and will dissuade other parents from considering enrolling in the school or continuing to have their students enrolled in the school, therefore affecting the money of that school.

I believe that I always understood that gossip (not just parents, but even among teachers, administrators, etc.) was destructive, but just recently I have understood more precisely why it takes such a toll on a school.


6 Responses

  1. Steve,

    The book was How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. One of my favorite parts of the book is the author’s descriptions of food. Here is one: “O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live for ever in the wideness of that rich momemt.”

    He is equally descriptive about his sinful longings so be forewarned.

  2. Suzanne
    What was the book you read in class? Love to know the title/author.

    I agree with LJD’s diatribe against gossip, and fully understand the “gossip of goodwill” invoked by Martin. I would call that “good gossip” something other than gossip, because gossip is a sin in Scripture, but that does not discount the fact that what we seek to cultivate in our schools is “good will” or folks talking about how good it is other than how bad it is.

    Watch five minutes of TV and then know that such good will is truly counter to our current culture. We love to be sarcastic, negative, and “down” because our culture has lost its high tastes. I think my resolution for the new year to focus by faith on those things that bring energy to those around me, and myself, or in other words talk well, not down.

  3. Suzanne,

    Thanks for the post. You’ve underscored the seriousness of this evil.

    What do you think Martin? Is there another word or can you give us any positive uses of gossip in the tradition?


  4. I agree with you Andrew about gossip being solely negative. I do not see any reference to gossip in the Bible as something positive. My students and I had a lengthy discussion about gossip today in class. We earnestly tried to define it according to the book we just finished and then define it biblically. We also looked at the consequences of gossip in both. One rather frightening and insightful thought was that those who gossip invariable will go on to approve the same act in others who practice it. (Rom. 1:29-32) A very destructive cycle indeed. In the book we recently read, gossip destroys the life of the whole town. The author even used the metaphor of a growing dark ‘slag heap’ from the refuse of a coal mine covering the town to represent gossip. ‘This is very much in agreement with Mr. Daniels’ assessment that gossip destroys the ‘life forces’ of a school. Perhaps there is a name for the kind of edifying talk Mr. Cothran mentions.

  5. Is gossip the problem? Or is it attitude? In other words, I could conceive of good gossip: people talking amongst themselves in ways that help the school.

    • Martin,

      What is gossip? Generally, I think we regard it as negative and something we ought to avoid. If people are speaking postively, it would seem to be something other than gossip.

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