RT Vol XVII: Ch 10: Why Can’t Professional Educators Talk About the Elephants in the Room?: The Undiscussables of Culture
From the Book: The Refractive Thinker® Vol XVII: Managing a Cultural Workforce: The Impact of Global Employees


Reasons are numerous for not discussing the elephant in the room. Understandably, nobody wants to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or labeled as a purveyor of hate. The goal of this writing was to present a refractive thinking approach to addressing these undiscussables. The undiscussables repeatedly surface when questions or comments about either side of a hot topic arise. Do faculty truly have free speech in the classroom, faculty meetings, or simply publicly voicing perspectives on issues that directly affect their work? It appears that necessary, but potentially controversial or sensitive dialogue can no longer occur in academia without serious fallout within the major and social medias or education administration. When faculty cannot speak from the point of experience or observation, where does this leave our students and their educational experiences? Immigration control and border safety has accentuated issues with The Dream Act and DACA. Immigrant students are filling our classrooms. and professional educators bear a tremendous responsibility for their learning. We are scholars and members of the education community. We have a duty to prepare students to succeed personally and professionally among diverse, peers, colleagues and businesses. We cannot change what we cannot discuss, calmly, rationally, and with thoughtful consideration.

Actions taken by Kaepaernick and Benson demonstrate the severity of repercussions. President Trump’s rhetoric has escalated racism, hatred, and bigoted musings. Is it possible that situations such as the Unite the Right political rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina could have been avoided by engaging in dialogue on sensitive topics? Is there a fine line between freedom of speech and undiscussable hot topics? On the political stage, it is compelling that undiscussable topics be discussed if we are to explore solutions to real problems as a society and a nation. Purposely sidestepping dialogue hinders forward progress toward solutions. Will potential consequences of avoiding the elephant in the room outweigh one over the other? Given the information in this chapter through the eyes of a refractive thinker, it is indeed a possibility.