The 3six5 project: July 7, 2011

On July 7, 2011 I contributed to a global digital “journal” of sorts called the3six5 project. I like this project because it captures voices from across the world reflecting on daily issues and joys. I’ve copied my post below. Extra points for those who get the literary allusions. 🙂 I hope you’ll sign up to write for the3six5 in 2012!


And indeed there will be time

To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’

–“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

Today, Atlantans fume over the CRCT cheating scandal that recently rocked the Atlanta Public School system. There is anger. There is disillusionment. There is worry. My reaction, however, is a bit different. I am curious. What changed so that a good score became worth more than character? What shifts in policy, school leadership, or educational culture led to such an unwanted, albeit unexpected, outcome?

In reflecting, my mind wanders, and I begin to ponder the results of shifts in my life. What has changed for me? Have my small steps led where I hoped?

I scan my backyard, no longer a jungle of ivy, but instead filled with shady grass, shrubs, and, of course, a few weeds.  I peer into my refrigerator which opens to reveal organic produce—a far cry from the microwave dinners of my former fare. I peer into the mirror, and my eyes crinkle into crows-feet, my forehead lifts into creases, both telltale signs of laughter and worry. I remember relationships, some faded, others strengthened, as faces of family, friends, and former flames flash through my memory.

I wonder about the seeds of these changes: the small choices that led to larger results. I scan the past four years, noticing the links. A love of gardening discovered while picking figs on the tree in my grandmother’s back yard; reading Michael Pollens’ Omnivore’s Dilemma on the beaches of Thailand; watching a student snort an almond from his nose last fall; surviving a car wreck; chancing a second first date with a wonderful man.

Change is inevitable, change is slow, and all change is catalyzed by the small stuff: a tweak in policy, an idea shared, a phone call neglected. In moments of crisis like the current APS scandal, the temptation may be to act swiftly to right the wrong. But I wonder if it isn’t necessary first to reflect. To identify the changes wrought and discover the roots of those changes, proceeding then with knowledge. Only then may we dare to act, to create, to change.


About the author: Peyten Dobbs: Atlanta native, education aficionado, gardening novice, and local food junkie. Find her or @epdobbs.

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