The Flow You Know

So, there is this stream…

Wait, haven’t we been there before? Twice? And what is it now? Should we go against or with the flow? Can’t you make up your mind?

I wrote Going With the Flow after seeing a large group of teachers silently accept something that seemed outrageous to me. I couldn’t believe how easily we accept the things that are expected from us even if they limit us in the way we work and live. So, I went on a stream-of-consciousnessy rant on everything I don’t like in our culture. I was happy. Then I was worried that I might come across as too arrogant. Who am I to tell anyone what to do and say and listen to and watch? If there is no one right way to live, then going against the flow shouldn’t be seen as the one right way. Then a student in one of my classes said, after another discussion on how we could change the student-teacher-dynamic: “Mr. Turgay, you’re always talking about this, but nothing will change. It’s really boring!” So I thought, you know, there is another side of this story and maybe it’s not strictly better. With all the stuff I’m trying to do, especially in school, sometimes that thought does creep up on me: What if no one cares? And then I wrote Going Against the Flow to try to see the problems with this way of doing things.

There are no easy answers is something I’ve been telling my students more and more lately, fighting against the black/white-notion that is so prevalent in our culture (which is hard because you can’t talk about “shades of grey” anymore without reminding everyone of whips and handcuffs). Interestingly, both of these posts are among the most viewed posts on this blog, which I wouldn’t have expected and I don’t know exactly why (only The Film List and Why I’m a Teacher are more popular). I really enjoyed writing both texts and I plan on writing more like these because they allow me to put myself in someone else’s imaginary perspective. I obviously lean more towards going against the flow, but I misstepped often enough to know it’s not always the right or only answer.

And because I always want to have more feedback (and because my time during the holidays might be shorter than I expected, so I have to make it short, and I might not be able to keep up the daily routine during the next week), I ask everyone what they think about these two-and-a-half thought pieces. Which side are you on? Does there have to be sides? Should I write more like these or less?

Speak up! I’m asking! I’ll answer!

5 thoughts on “The Flow You Know

  1. I think that there is no one right way to live and that you don’t have to decide between going with or against the flow. I don’t think that there have to be (only) two sides. In my opinion you have to find your own way to live and your own individual “stream” which can include everything you like, you are interested in, you support, you watch, you read, you listen to and so on – no matter if it’s “mainstream” or “anti-mainstream”. If you automatically reject everything that is either mainstream or anti-mainstream, than I don’t think you do that because you really want to think like that. You probably think that this is the only option and that there only exists that kind of right and wrong, but that’s not how it has to be, I think.
    Of course you have the liability to one of these sides and you get more inspired by one of them, but at the end it’s you who’s able to filter and to combine aspects from both sides which is why you’re creating your own stream. The stream you should and want to follow.

    As you see, I am not the only person who likes these kind of posts! Of course I would like you to write more about it.

  2. I also think that there isn’t THE right way to live. But just look at the people who changed the world in the last century like Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. Did they went against or with the flow? I’m not for going against the flow just for the sake of doing it. But it if something isn’t the way it should be and everyone just accepts it without questioning it, be the one to break the rules and just don’t care what others think of you „because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do“.

  3. Hard to argue with that. But I always wonder why people like Mandela and Gandhi are portrayed as great heroes, but standing up against things you don’t like is never really encouraged. If you complain against unfair grades in school, you can be lucky if they don’t get even worse. Maybe my problem lies in the fact that we start to believe that not everyone can change something, only those “perfect” heroes.

    1. Exactly, that’s the problem. As you mentioned some time in a lesson, the teachers who emphasize the most how important resistance against bad circumstances in history was are the ones who don’t accept  criticism against themself and the school system (I think you said something in this direction). In general to few people (and teachers) are able to engage getting feedback and reflect on it. (See your post ‘I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say’)

      Maybe most people think of the huge changes these “perfect” heroes accomplished when they think of “change something” and that they can’t change things in this dimension. It’s not always (in fact most of the time it isn’t) about changing the world. For example you’re job offers a great opportunity to influence a lot of different people every year. For instance the fact that you are vegan is responsible for quite a lot discussions about this subject and even if just one person follows your example it is a huge change you caused in this persons life.
      What i want to say is that we should stop thinking that we have to start a big revolution to change something that matters.

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