what I should have said

I was a guest on live radio yesterday. It all went so fast that I didn’t actually hear how it actually went until today, listening to the podcast through headphones. I was happy enough with the coherence in what I was saying under the circumstances, and I was happy with what I said and what I stood for. Listening to it again I could recognize shortcomings, too; and these were mostly the recognition that I sounded different in a studio than I would have in class.

Don’t get me wrong. Radio was fun, and I’m not disappointed. But, like any conversation, I could replay it and imagine saying other things. If there were more time, maybe; if the other discussant hadn’t monopolized so much; if we really could have talked things through; if I’d had more coffee.

I should have said something about educating all children because we actually limit opportunities of most kids in science. I should have said that we know we can reform education, that we have examples of it working better. I should have reemphasized that it’s about empowering people, both personally and societally. I should have remarked that scientists can’t be our only answer, because, well, they’re scientists, after all. Not everyone can teach, mentor, or even be good to have around kids. Teachers, on the other hand, are professionals, and we should treat them as such. Probably, in what I did say, you could imagine that this was implied, but I still wish I’d said it.

To be fair, the other guy said a lot, and didn’t really ever stop talking, it seemed.

Most of all, now that I listened, I realized that being someone in the classroom is a lot more natural for me than being that someone on radio. I was reserved and guarded, and I could have been more bold and enthusiastic. That’s probably my biggest wish for a do-over.

And, then I remember some other snippets of the discussion, and what I should have said in response to other statements. We do have a two-pronged system, just not what the genius award recipient was suggesting: There are the “haves” and “have-nots”, boys and girls, whites and blacks. It just seems that one of our prongs is always too short. We have achievement gaps, but we also know it doesn’t have to be that way. I should have told him that it isn’t just about the people who will create the explanations, who will master the world, who will invent the ideas. Rather, the world will be at the mercy of the people who don’t understand the the process of science, the use of evidence, the need to save a planet. And that’s the world that my daughters will live in.

I should have told him to be quiet once in a while, to listen to an educator, to visit a class, and to share not just his genius but his ear. I should have told him the story about pants, that every child has the right and potential to inquire about the natural world, and they’re all welcome to the sensory table of nature as long as they’re wearing pants — or a dress. I should have reminded him that welcoming the people who are already gifted at science to the science table is the easy thing to do; and that if he thinks science is so hard, he should try education.

But I didn’t say these things. I said some other things that were worth saying, but there was still need to say these things. Next time. I admit that there probably isn’t a “next time” for a radio show, if I just consider odds. But there’s another next time… After all, last year was the New York Times, this year was a syndicated radio show… maybe that chance to be on The Daily Show isn’t so far fetched after all.

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