So here I am, adrenalized by the exciting environs here at ISTE 2014. 40, 000 people are engaging on the #ISTE2014 hashtag. The banquet caterer here at the GWCC is likely experiencing challenges beyond all belief trying to feed tens of thousands of hungry educators. As I fill my bucket with each passing moment, whether it is from a cool tweet I read, a new blog I find, a great panel I hear- I am truly a seedling in a hotbed of tropic intensity.
But with all this passionate, positive energy around me, I was struck this morning by a concept that is really troubling me. It is blatantly obvious that the term “warm and fuzzy” has become a taboo dirty word in our world.
When did this shift happen and my goodness, why? When I hear someone say that something is warm and fuzzy, there is a snarling distaste with which the words are spoken.
For most of my early years in education, these two words were rarely used to describe me- abrasive and tough were more likely to be used. But I have certainly warmed up, and I am proud to be this way. As most excellent educators know, strong relationships are at the center of anything successful in our world. Warmth, empathy, and genuity are qualities that breed success and help us overcome struggle, failure, and conflict in all areas of our lives. In fact, isn’t our first and most powerful instinct as neophytes to seek warmth, connection, and the touch of our parents?
So I wonder if people who growl the term warm and fuzzy either lack these qualities and speak the words with disdain due to resentment or do people really believe that learning, achievement, growth, and success are diametrically opposed to warmth and fuzziness in the classroom? Do people think that we can’t have rigor and learning if there is too much warmth, too close a rapport, too much focus on the children as human beings who needs to feel love, safety, comfort, and connection?
Sitting in the room with Angela Maiers, Drew Minock, Brad Waid, Todd Nesloney and Steve Mesler today during the #YouMatter panel discussion, at a table with 4 of my new colleagues at Davis Academy who are passionate, student-centered, relationship-oriented talented educators, and reflecting on the best educators I have ever been around- I fully affirm that great learning never happens without warmth and fuzziness. Warmth is comfort- fuziness makes us smile from the tickled feeling we experience when touched by it.
I encourage all who read this to embrace the warm fuzziness in your process and unabashedly share it with your students, colleagues, administrators, parents, and community members.
And the next time someone uses the term with a negatively charged tone, grab them, give them a hug, tell them they matter for something very specific and significant. Watch them smile- then ask them if being warm and fuzzy is such a bad thing.