Saturday, 10 August 2013

Why we do what we do - a challenge to us all

I just watched a terrific TED talk by Simon Sinek - How great leaders inspire action. I encourage everyone to take a look at this.

He says that people are not inspired by the 'what' you do but by the 'why' you do something.  As part  of the leadership mentorship program #SAVMP, we have been asked to write about what our vision is for our school.  Why do I do what I do at our school?  Why am I an educator?  Why have I worked to become an administrator?

These are the key questions.  But it is not just the leader who needs to ask, but all staff in our school who need to ask, now - why do I do what I do.

We are just about to head into a new school year.  Soon we will be immersed in the day to day work of learning with kids again.  But why do we do it?  Why do we come back every year and work so hard with all of our kids.  Right now is the time to contemplate this question.

For me, my vision of education has changed over the years.  I have been at this now for 27 years.  I need to be very clear on why I do this work and I need to be able to tell all of you why I do this.

For me education is the great liberator.  It gives people an opportunity to grow and dream.  It frees us from ignorance, prejudice and hate.  It allows us to become more than we started out as.  It inspires us to make a change, any change that will make the lives of people better.

As teachers, we live in hope that by doing what we do we are actually making the world a better place.  With each child we work with there is the potential for tremendous growth.  We are the ones who open the doors for children so they can clearly see the world around them.

Here in Canada, we know our students have the potential to go to college or university and realize their full potential.  I have visited other countries like rural Mexico and El Salvador where the chance to complete even a high school program lies beyond the grasp of most students.

However, I have talked to many of these students and their dreams are the same as those of our students here in Canada.  They want to make life better for themselves, their families and in most instances, for their country as well.

I believe this is a universal quality.  As teachers, we get to tap into this.  We are fortunate to have the resources to assist our students in fulfilling their dreams.  This is why I do the work that I do.  For me it is interesting that I only really understood the power of education when I talked to students in the Global South.  There, education is still the great liberator, but many children are denied their chance to fly.

I believe I teach for these children as well.  I can't change their situation, I wish I could, but they have taught me how precious and important an education is.

A child from an elementary school in San Jose las Flores, El Salvador.
Several schools including ours, support this wonderful school

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