While it’s kind of hard sometimes, I truly believe in the inherent good in people.  This is a hard idea to come to terms with, though, partially because there is so much that seems to be cruel about the world, but also because it’s easier to place blame, in an effort to heal our own wounds.

I watched Brene Brown’s vulnerability talk again last night, something I like to frequent when feeling a bit lost in my own head — when lost in my own emotions.  She speaks of the whole-hearted: those who are capable of digging deep, planting their feet, and opening themselves up wide to be seen by the whole world.  She speaks of their courage in the face of fear, their pride, and their ability to love without the guarantee of it being returned.

This complex fear is something that unites us all; it’s part of being human, and it’s part of being alive, according to Brown.  She mentions, specifically, that the whole-hearted live with this capacity to be vulnerable, not only because it’s what it means to be alive.

autismBut also because that’s how they know they’re alive.

I’ve been struggling with this a great deal lately.  Shame has crept in over the past month or so, triggering some of my insecurities, causing anxiety to bubble through my veins, and creating a mindful dissonance in my brain.  I’m reminded just how hard it is to let yourself be seen, to live in a whole-hearted way, to embrace fear, and to approach the world with a proud vulnerability.  And if it’s hard for me, I imagine it must be hard for our little ones, too.

Just as I believe with people, in general, I believe in the inherent good in kids.  Humans are complex beings, and our inner struggles, vulnerabilities, and lack of courage manifests itself in so many ways, probably in more ways than we could ever think to record.  There are few trends, few patterns, other than the fact that all of us share the capacity and the need for love, understanding, and acceptance.  I think, at the heart of what we do, needs to lie an unconditional love and understanding, not only for the children who enter our classrooms, but for what it means to be human.

Because through understanding, through love, and through empathy, we can teach just about anything.

5 thoughts

  1. Paul – I think a lot of us struggle with the same things. We live in a society that does not value/promote vulnerability. I love that TED talk, and Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. I even wrote my own post on shunning shame at the beginning of this year at http://wp.me/p20vvh-f1. Thanks for sharing!

  2. And we need to embed this empathy into every interaction with students. Assume no malice, positive presupposition…all those. I see so many unnecessary frictional confrontations, from a teacher shouting down a kid to take his hat off in the locker bay to another staff member aggressively questioning a kid for being in the hall during class time. Such behaviors are the antithesis of a personalized, relationship-valuing, empathetic approach. It is easier to lead with an assumption, and act on that, rather than take the time to load with a question and seek first to understand. (Wow this response is filled with cliches… I need more coffee in order to generate original thoughts, I guess!)

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