“Putting students on notice that their attitudes had better damn well be positive tells us less about what makes for an optimal learning environment than it does about the needs (if not neediness) of the person who sends this message. Kids don’t require a classroom that’s relentlessly upbeat; they require a place where they’ll feel safe to express whatever they’re feeling, even if at the moment that happens to be sad or angry or scared. They need a place, in other words, where negativity is allowed. Bad feelings don’t vanish in an environment of mandatory cheer — they just get swept under the rug where people end up tripping over them, so to speak.”
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