I wanted to address this sentiment in a blog post because (1) I think it’s rooted in a false assumption about organization and (2) I see major potential for our field in overcoming this assumption.
So, what do I mean by a false assumption about organization? I find people who express this belief think that being organized is a fixed state that some people achieve, and since they haven’t been able to do it, they are not one of those people. The key shift in perspective here is to realize that being organized is a process, not a state, much like language learning! In the same way we don’t expect to just magically attain a certain proficiency level, or reach a proficiency level and just stay there with no additional effort, we shouldn’t expect to just get organized and effortlessly stay there. While we may observe people who seem organized, or fluent in a language, and think that’s just the way they are, the reality is that both of these states are the result of ongoing adjustments in our language use or organizational systems.
So, just as anyone can learn the languages we teach, anyone can learn to be organized! In the same way that we adjust to maintain our language abilities as our lives change, and sometimes find this easier than others, we can shift to keep our organizational systems going.
Now, for the second point, which is actually the most important one to me! The language teachers who tell me they just aren’t organized enough to get organized are always, every single time, amazing, creative teachers with lots of ideas and projects going on in their classrooms and lives. Many of them also have significant care-giving responsibilities, and are busy with all sorts of projects on this front as well. As a result, they feel perpetually behind, and think they just can’t get it together to complete the projects they want.
In contrast, I see this situation as a huge reserve of potential, that a little bit of organization can help bring forth. Yes, there are major structural issues that organization cannot overcome, like racism and neoliberalism. Nor is organization is a magic wand, it takes effort, just like language learning! But, it can structure all of those ideas and uncompleted projects so they start to flow forward, rather than feeling perpetually postponed to the future or a pressing deadline. Personally, I would love to see the results of all of these projects from the language teachers I know, and I think it would have a major, positive impact on our field.
If you have other organizational struggles, or big projects you’d like to share with our profession, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!