20 Comments

  1. Amy (closet kwalden01)

    All the time. Good morning, And thanks for the total wake up call! What a perspective. I so often get all absorbed and wrapped up in my own little bubble that I easily forget I’m not the only sud in the soapbox. My normal isn’t everyone else’s. Just wow. On another note, my thoughts and utmost respect go out to ALL teachers & educators for their sacrifices, those mentioned above and the sacrifices that have become so second nature to all teachers that they no longer seem like sacrifices at all. It takes a special person, an empathetic, nurturing and downright loving person to teach. Kudos!

    • I’m glad I’m not alone, Amy. I definitely need a reminder to shift perspective more than I should. We’ve got lots of room to grow, but we’ve come pretty darn far, too. And thanks for the kind note about teachers. There are plenty of professions like that, and even more kind-hearted people doing ALL KINDS of work. But you’re right. Spending on our classrooms and “our kids” is second nature. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. It’s really tough to blog about FIRE when everyone’s backgrounds are so different. I write from a white, middle-class, able-bodied perspective–I’ve heard from a few people that a lot of FIRE principles just don’t work if you don’t fit into that category. I’m frustrated by writers like Mr. Money Mustache who say that privileges don’t exist–they do, and they impeded progress for so, so many people. I try to be mindful of differently-abled people while writing, but it’s difficult because yes, I’m privileged, and I have no idea what it’s like to live life through that lens.

    In many ways we’re all tone deaf. It’s about acknowledging it and trying to do something about it.

    I’m also worried about the future of education. Hopefully wonderful teachers like you will continue to provide open-mindedness to a new generation of learners.

    • You’re right that we all live through our own lens. And it makes sense to write that way, too, especially if we chronicle our own journeys. I do think it’s important to do exactly what you said – give pause and acknowledge different situations. It’s so strange to me when people get prickly about privilege. For example, I can’t change my childhood, nor can or should anyone else. But it certainly helped shape me into who I am today. I’m not going to apologize for it, but I certainly will acknowledge that.

      • Oh, and as far as teaching goes, it is a volatile time to be a teacher. The good news is that most everyone in the profession will continue to roll up their sleeves and do what’s best for kids regardless of who is in charge. We’re stubborn like that. And honestly, I hope we’re all wrong about her!

  3. Great post, Penny! I love the reminder to think outside our own little worlds. As much as I try not to, I know I fall victim to tone deafness. It’s something I need to be aware of more regularly.

    You’ve inspired me here too. My daughter is in her last year at a public Montessori middle school with three amazing teachers. Both of my kids were fortunate enough to have one particular teacher that took them under his wing and made them feel brilliant. He’s changed both of their lives in countless ways. I have been trying to think of a good way to thank him. You solved that for me today – an unexpected gift directly to the middle school teachers is the answer (to cover whatever supplies they need – so they don’t have to pay out of pocket). Thank you!!!

    • That’s so kind of you, Amanda! I seriously could do a happy dance around my classroom whenever families drop off unneeded books, markers, or anything like that. And if I ever score a Target gift card, it’s like classroom gold! Thank you for thinking of us!

  4. I’ve definitely been tone-deaf before, and I’m sure I will be again. The key is being willing to graciously accept criticism followed by *fixing your attitude.* Be open, and listen to the situations of others without judgement. Be self-aware. (I’m reminding myself here, not scolding you 😄)

  5. Regrettably, I have caught myself going tone deaf far too often (once is far too often, and I’ve crossed it more than once). Its something I know I will always have to work on.

    On a separate note, although I know it doesn’t seem like it now, let me assure you that there are millions around this country that more than appreciate the time, sacrifices, and work you army of teachers put in day in, day out. And we appreciate the awesome responsibility you guys are assuming by bringing up the future of our country and world.

    • Thanks, Daniel! I’ve always felt welcomed as a teacher into the PF community. The support I get from you all is incredible. Your words mean a lot! We’re in it for the kids. Politics change. Standards come and go. But the kiddos are the constant 🙂

  6. I’ve been caught getting into the way-too-judgey territory when it comes to other people’s spending decisions, and I’ve tried to be more mindful of that lately.

    With regard to teaching, I’m sure it’s a stressful time to be doing what you do. I appreciate how much of yourself you put into your work, whether it’s grading all weekend or buying that winter coat. Your work matters; keep it up!

    • Thanks, Matt! This community is such a wonderful example of all the diverse ways we each contribute to the world. It is a stressful time, but truly, schools are governed locally. Illinois has been in such bad shape for such a long time. Fortunately, I’m in a very good district! But yeah, I could do without the politics!

  7. It’s very easy to cross that line into tone deafness. I’m sure I’ve done it more than once. I do try to be aware of it and learn from it, but sometimes it’s difficult to crawl out from behind your own perspective and really see how others are experiencing this world. I think the best way to do that is to open yourself up to honest conversation with those who see things differently, no matter how uncomfortable that can be at times.

    • That’s so true, Gary. Honest conversations are so important. And I try to not have ulterior motives. It’s too easy to engage people in conversation with the intent of changing their mind. At least when I do this, it’s really transparent and unproductive. For the past year or so, I’ve really tried to prioritize listening.

  8. I have a tendency toward tone-deafness, I know. And so, increasingly as I get older, I try to keep my mouth shut (at least some of the time.) Realizing that our perspectives aren’t universal is a hard lesson, and some folks never learn it. I also know I am more aware of certain issues than of others, and there are others that I just don’t see at all. For instance, I hope this past election may have the effect of opening our eyes much more to rural poverty, which is probably a good thing. (not sure we’ll do much about it, but it is getting a bit more attention.)

  9. After my experiences through the schools of hard knocks and kicks while you’re down, I tend to have to remind myself not to be so hard on others who seem to have had it really easy. It’s harder to do with some individuals than others, especially when they flaunt their privilege, but it helps keep my soul less tarnished 😉

  10. I am quite white, privileged, rich and conservative, so I try to pay particular attention to tone. It’s a big deal, especially in personal finance where nuance is everywhere. A lot of people ask for help with their budgets/finances. I have to be really careful how I talk about increasing income especially, and about dependence/codependent relationships.

    Okay, so that’s the finance comment. Here’s the political comment.

    I certainly don’t like some of the trends away from meaningful discussion that I’ve seen recently. I think if we have any hope of more discussion it comes from striking the right tone. I hope that we can exist with a confident pluralism (which of course, you can cry foul on as it’s now the conservatives pushing for pluralism rather than progressives).

  11. I’ll admit the financial freedom and poverty issue is a touchy subject for me. On one hand, I fully support helping everyone has a solid chance and creating more economic opportunity. But on the other hand, if a lot of smart people I respected told me how I probably wouldn’t be able to get ahead or even break the cycle of poverty, how I was disadvantaged by my situation, or that talk of FI couldn’t apply to me, how there were no means of opportunity, well… I would have believed them. And I wouldn’t have worked so hard, and fought my way out.

    Of course some things are silly to say, like everyone can retire by 30.

    But I think we have to be careful not to pity people to the point they give up hope. We live in a country with tremendous opportunity. We don’t all have equal assess to all of it. But if people are going to carve out even the smallest amount of financial freedom, we need to encourage the opportunity instead of focusing on what’s holding people back.

    This week I am speaking to mostly homeless teenagers, or ones with absent/drug addicted parents. Next month I’m giving a talk to families living under the poverty line.

    I won’t be talking about saving a million dollars or retiring early. But how we can constantly take every small chance we get so life doesn’t always have to be this damn hard. It takes time, and grit, but we can change our course.

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