Jeb Bush on Feelings

by beccaborrelli

I had my thesis proposal two weeks ago.

While talking to my committee I started to cry.


It was (pretty) embarrassing.

There was no reason to cry. They approved my research. I was well on my way. All was dandy.

I guess I’ve never cared about something so much.

Not sure what to do with that feeling.

My thesis chair looked at me and said:

“We never mind tears. Usually the best theses come from the criers.”


Jeb Bush gave the keynote speech at the Education Innovation Summit this year.

Throughout the speech, I had been holding space pretty well.

Then he said:

“How [students] feel is going to be irrelevant, but being able to draw conclusions and argue points with objective reasoning will be the key.”


(Did he just say what I think he said?)


“How [students] feel is going to be irrelevant, but being able to draw conclusions and argue points with objective reasoning will be the key.”


I couldn’t believe it.

Not because I have an opinion that is different than his.

Not because I have an ego the size of an elephant to defend.

(Maybe just a horse?)

I couldn’t believe it because (in his terms), the statement is objectively, rationally (and in my words) empirically wrong.

Feelings and objective reasoning are like yarn and a loom. One cannot function properly without the other. They work together…

Feeling informed reason is why crying graduate students usually write great thesis papers. It’s why Steve Job’s intense opinions and feelings about his products made him notoriously hard to work with, yet changed the landscape of the world forever. It was why Martin Luther King’s feeling infested, impassioned reasoning changed the civil rights landscape in this country forever. It was why geneticist Barbara McClintock’s research began with visions she had in nighttime dreams, and intuitive impressions while experimenting. It is why she was laughed at and ignored… until her research earned her the nobel prize. It is why her biography was entitled: A Feeling for the Organism.

We can’t build a house with one tool… same goes for education… for life.

Feeling without reason can lead to rash acts of violence.

“I was caught up in rage. I wasn’t thinking.”

Reason without feeling can lead to calculated acts of violence.

Most Wall Street bankers won’t understand why people are mad.

So when I find out that Arizona State University invites a man who believes in divorcing feeling from reason…

The whole focus should be on student learning… The system should be rewarding not how we feel again, but what our results are…  Can you imagine questions [about feelings] being on a job interview? It’s about facts not feelings…

All pulled directly from his speech…

to the Education Innovation Summit…

I cringe.

This is not innovative.

It is dangerous.