I came across two things recently, each of them instantly made sense to me.
First, this brave young man’s Eagle Scout project as pointed out by Karl Fisch on his blog:
“First, please download and watch this movie (18.4 MB, 11:36). Then think about how often we stamp “can’t” on somebody’s forehead.”
Second, this Edutopia article: Overcoming Underachievement which showed how a short self-affirmation essay at the start of the term buoyed up students — and gave them a psychological inoculation against something called stereotype threat — so that their performances improved and stayed improved. While the same short exercise wasn’t seen to have the same extra benefits for those students in the majority, they aren’t subject to stereotype threat. I recommend this article as a good read for all of us.
That got me to thinking about those wise educators whose words stirred a similar “that’s so right” gut reaction in me. They are from many different fields, but their messages carry the same voice.
Quakers talk about “that of God in everyone.” I have heard several say that sitting in silence helps them to focus on “the still, small voice within.” A favorite song declares “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” They treat children as beings to be listened to and respected, as they have the potential to speak truth to us because they share “that of God.”
Conflict resolution methods often start with getting each side of a conflict a chance to speak, and to know that they are heard (for examples, “Google” active listening).
Multicultural and diversity awareness educators I’ve known say that we should always start with connecting to each person where they are. Getting to know, and accept the “other’s” values and culture should begin by examining and sharing your own.
Helping someone with an Exceptionality (Differently-abled People, People with Learning Differences (gifts, delays, and challenges)) entails beginning with an examination and evaluation of the person in question — I have colleagues whose mantra is “begin with the child”or “the child is your handbook.”