Jessica Sieff: A lesson in learning the hard way

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Generally speaking, people always say, “I guess I just have to learn the hard way.”

They may not always say it but they say it a lot. Most of the time they say it after they’ve done something or something has happened to them that could have been avoided had they just paid attention to what they should have learned already but didn’t — which is why it’s the hard way.

Ignoring the red flags in relationships, getting confrontational at work, refusing to improve our diet or behavioral patterns until we’re laid up in a hospital bed … When we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation in which we should have known better, we avoid the responsibility and chalk it up to learning the hard way when in fact we do know better.

I have a friend who says this a lot. I just listen and smile but really I want to say that no learning is happening at all.

This whole thing about learning the hard way came to mind upon hearing the Niles school board and the district’s teachers union had come to a tentative contract agreement after a lengthy, sometimes ugly, battle.

Negotiations like these have been playing out like this all over the country for quite some time now. The problem is, obviously, bigger than this district — but it’s a big and recurring one.

From sea to shining sea, each time a contract ends, both sides prepare for battle. It seems like a really hard way of doing things. And on a national scale, neither side seems to be learning much about how to work with one another.

The country’s education system is, in fact, too vital to fail.

Let’s not learn that the hard way.