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Being Brave in a Culture of Fear June 17, 2013

Posted by Collette J. in How to Be Brave, Reflections.
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I’ve had this TED Talk video by Sir Ken Robinson posted in several of the blogs I read regularly, and I think it is just a wonderful and poignant and right on target.  Every educator, and more importantly every politician and school administrator, should watch it!

After watching it several times and reflecting for a couple weeks, I’m left with the challenge and question: How can I be brave (or fierce as one of my role models, Joyce Valenza says) in an educational climate that is based mostly on fear? How can I inspire and educate students with “equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education” as well as to science, math, and literacy when it flies in the face of the entire culture of our school and district and state education system?

Whether it’s an educator’s fear of losing their job or an administrator’s fear of their school or district not getting enough high scores on the right standardized tests, chronic fear is choking us.  It chokes the creativity that Sir Ken Robinson invokes us to inspire and it chokes the passion out of us as educators to teach the whole child: heart and head.

As a teacher-librarian in my district, I live in fear that my principal or another administrator will pile on yet another job/task in the name of “data” that will muscle out another equally important part of my job (like collaborating with teachers).  I live in fear of my job being cut.  And yet, I think the library might be one of the last “holdouts” in education that encourages students to study things that interest them and by doing so, personalizes a student’s education.

Cari at The Centered Library blog sums it up perfectly.  Librarians, go read her blog!  It rocks!

So this summer, I’m building up my gumption and starting next school year I’m going to be brave and fierce, and I’m not going to fear the wrath of the system.  I’m perfectly aware that I’m taking a risk…and yet, I can no longer be afraid in good conscience as an educator.  My last thought to leave this new-school-year resolution is from a book I read last year called “A Whole Nother Story” by Cuthbert Soup.  I’m warning you now that this quote is a spoiler, so STOP HERE if you are going to read the book:

“When danger lurks and your heart is racing, don’t be afraid, be amazing!”

Let’s be amazing, folks!

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