An open letter to all educators feeling the pressure:
In my job, I often visit with educators and parents who are discouraged. Who feel that there is no hope. Who feel that there are too many solutions being offered. Who feel that change, while inevitable, is something to fight against until the one perfect solution comes along.See, they’ve become trail weary. They’re experiencing the saddle-sores of someone who’s been riding the trail for so many years and yet they see nothing ahead but insurmountable obstacles. They’re tired. They’ve tried the tricks. They’ve followed tips. But sometimes the path just wears us down.
When we’re stuck in quicksand, it does us NO good to focus on the discomfort and danger of the sand concreting our feet and legs. We must look beyond being stuck and find a person with an outstretched hand, or a tree with low-hanging branches, or something. We must look beyond our fear and the obstacles and concentrate on possibilities; on creating new possibilities. Not to talk about what’s going wrong only and lament the dire situation, but to look squarely at the the real problems, consider what’s at stake, and find solutions to fix what’s going wrong. To work in the possible, given the impossible.
To do anything less is to give up.
Sure, you can call me a PollyAnna or accuse me of having been out of the “real” classroom for too long (not even a year); of living in a world of philosophical make-believe clouds. But I like to think I’m seeking hope. That I’m finding or creating solutions to actual troubles. And if one solution doesn’t work, I’m still searching for others. For you. For me. For your kids. For our kids.
If we look only at the quicksand, we’ll surely die. Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow. But eventually and after a great deal of suffering.
There is no cavalry thundering over the rise to come save us from our current discomfort. We have to become modern MacGyvers in order to save ourselves with the materials at hand.
A final question to get us started:
What if we could teach our kids those same MacGyver-skills by transparently role modeling the process for them? With them? Where would we start?