Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In Our Classroom. In Our World?

This great visual popped up on my Twitter feed this week. Thank you, Susan Zanti! These are powerful statements of living.


In our classroom:


We respect each other.
We try our best.
We are a team.
We learn from our mistakes.
We create.
We celebrate each other’s success.


With lightning speed, I saw a substitution I wanted to make. That I needed to make. That I wondered if I COULD make or SHOULD make it.


If “In our classroom”, then why not “In our world”?


We respect each other.


I don’t have to agree with the person next door or on the other side of the world. However, I can acknowledge their right, just as much as my own, to live and be in ways they see fit. I can choose to not judge or compare. I recall a phrase I found somewhere: “With harm to none, let it be.” I began my book, Dear Teachers, with a call to do just that each school year.


We try our best.


In my essay Yearn, Embrace & Try, I talked of the power in believing in the word YET. My garden may be a mess while another’s is gorgeous lines and perfect symmetry. I may not have much, but I own it by trying. If my mindset is that, I can lay my head on the pillow at night knowing I worked hard and tried my best. I can sleep the sound sleep of the honorable and try again come dawn.


We are a team.


Everyone on the planet is on the same team. We’re all human. We all love our families and friends. We all eat. We all breathe. We all seek a place and sense of belonging. In May, I wrote of this in I Need Somebody, the inspiration of which I later discovered is as an actual song lyric line of Kwon Ji Yong's (G-Dragon’s) June 2017 song, Super Star. Certainly, there are differences of perspective, appearance and orientation, but we go back to our first guiding principle for that: we respect each other.


We learn from our mistakes.


Oh, how we botch things up. We yell. We screw up. We get upset. We go down the wrong road. We’re misled. We get scared and lie. We tear down what we have desperately tried to build or become.


All those things are how we become bigger, stronger and smarter. One of my most popular posts was all about this: Stronger By Falling. Errors can’t (and shouldn’t) be avoided. What we have today won’t be perfect. Nor will it be tomorrow. But it will be better than before if we’re following those first 3 principles: if we respect and try as a team.


We create.


So, we have a catastrophe on our hands: what do we do? We roll our sleeves up and create some solutions. We design. We build. We revise and do it again. If we respectfully work together and try our best, we get that forward momentum working in our favor. Humanity has a creative potential that has given us everything from rich wool sweaters to the Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan, and the fount is not drained dry yet.


We celebrate each other’s success.


Why grumble over another person’s success? If we’re not comparing ourselves to others, if we’re living our own lives following our own ideals, we should be content. As a corollary to the principle of us all being on the same team, when another succeeds, we all can move forward from what they have achieved. The successful one, in turn, will share his/her gifts because they understand they do and are nothing alone.


In our classroom. In our world?


How many of these 6 tenets apply to our lives today? How often are we adults following these classroom guidelines?


I’ve struggled with this imbalance for a long time. How do we have these 6 beautiful action statements for our children and then as adults, we have locked-in viewpoints? We don’t prize a sense of wonder. We see “us” and “them”. We make do and try to look “good, right and proper” at all times.


We have a term to describe living with inconsistent thoughts, beliefs and attitudes: cognitive dissonance. It’s rampant today, but it’s not hopeless. Yet. If it was inevitable, we wouldn’t see these posters from teachers and others going up on the walls and our Twitter feeds.


If we see value in these 6 statements of belief and action and if we truly believe in their worth, we need to adopt them fervently.


Educators are on board. The adults in the classrooms already see the benefit of operating under these notions. Some other individuals and organizations work under these premises everyday and many more are open to it. These folks need to jump in more. We need more visibility and advocacy. It’s the community populations, community leaders, corporation leaders, and national and international political & thought leaders who all need to affirm their buy-in and commit to framing our systems around these ideals.


In our world:


We respect each other.
We try our best.
We are a team.
We learn from our mistakes.
We create.
We celebrate each other’s success.


If they are empty words, these posters lose their value. We can just forget these notions and give our children guides that will at least be honest representations of the lives they can expect. They can see the hypocrisy anyway.

Personally, I side with the posters of things like In Our Classroom. We’re stronger #together.


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