A Brief for the Defense -or- Why I’m Glad I Went to Educon

I’ve been feeling pretty bad about the state of the edusphere lately. Actually, I’ve been feeling pretty bad about the world writ large. The election season always does that to me- it’s particularly challenging to be living in New Hampshire, where candidates seem to stand on every corner shouting down their rivals. These days it seems that one of their favorite topics is teachers and why they are EVIL and BAD and LAZY. The “If they really cared about kids” and the “In what other profession” memes just wear me down. As a school coach and change agent, I feel a particular responsibility to bring hope into schools- to help teachers remember why they became teachers and to help them reconnect to their best professional selves. Lately though, well…it’s been hard to find much reason to hope.

So I went to my first-ever EduCon this year with an uncharacteristically powerful cynicism. A giant, stinky, what’s-the-point-anyway albatross hanging around my neck. The negative was too much, the forces working against us were too big. But I thought that I’d at least get some writing done, see a few friends, enjoy a change of scenery. I didn’t expect to leave feeling…good.

But you know what? I did. I connected with some folks who still had hope. Folks who, like my colleagues and I,try to hold tight to the belief that to change the day-to-day experiences of kids and teachers is to change the whole world. I had a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) in which I realized that I had to just tune out the crazy sauce screamers with their “kids are failing because teachers are bad” hysteria.

Then, like I’d flipped a switch, positive edunews started turning up.

I discovered the great folks at Hyperakt’s Studio 360 and their work to rebrand teachers.

I came across this amazing response to the In What Profession rant I’d been running up against again and again.

I had conversation after conversation (and tweet after tweet) with folks who didn’t feel that all was lost. They were joyous and creative and very aware of the importance of their work. They took their jobs- but not themselves- seriously.

Then today, a colleague here at AUNE who spent the weekend introducing a new set of students to our Mindfulness in Education program shared this: A Brief for the Defense. It exactly captured my new awareness that we simply cannot allow ourselves to be buried by the despair and fear and vitriol of those who say we don’t- or can’t- do what needs to be done.

We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

So that’s it. Injustice will not be the measure of my attention- except for injustice done to children by those who would take their best teachers away from them. I will fight that injustice, however, with Disruptive Joy, creativity, and laughter.

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