We The Optimists

Young people are struggling to process (understand) the lack of civility and coarseness that have become commonplace in much of the collective human discourse. Recently, I spoke with youth who expressed great anxiety and fear over what they’re seeing/hearing constantly on the news and via social media as of late.

Teachers and school leaders have the opportunity every day to demonstrate and encourage better in our schools, classrooms and other designated learning spaces. As the world around them continues to create anxiety, fear and worry for our youth, their need for access to nurturing, safe and supportive environments only grows.

I see the potential of learning environments, very much the way an artist sees the potential of his or her canvas. Like the artist, we (educators) can create and design learning communities that cultivate social emotional competencies, celebrate inclusion and diversity, and promote civility amongst differing perspectives and viewpoints. Like the artist, the influence of our work in service of youth has the potential to transform lives and impact the world.

When I think of our work, this quote by Colleen Wilcox comes to mind: “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” It most certainly is. And I remain an optimist to the possibilities created by the work that we do.

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(c) 2018 Devan Blackwell, M.A.

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