Saturday, November 5, 2016

What are you waiting for? #EdChat

I found myself saying this a bunch the past few weeks. We've been discussing Transcendentalism the past few weeks in my American Literature class and we focus on the importance of the individual and what conformity means in today's society. I'm always a bit saddened by some of the defeatist attitudes of students when confronted with the idea to change who they are and follow their passions. At the high school level, some students already feel like it is too late to explore what matters to them or to stand up for their beliefs. It hurts my heart hear such young people think this way. Some students say that they want to follow their heart. I always shoot back,

"What are you waiting for?"

I make it a mission to encourage students and offer support to them in thinking about making changes. The words of Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman are bookended by the songs of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Katie Perry to show the students that finding who they really are is still very relevant today. We discuss social media and the illusion of perfection we often try to portray to the world around us, when a student suggested it is the imperfections that make all of us special and beautiful. I'm constantly reminded of the words of Emerson,

"Trust Thyself" and "Imitation is suicide"

These simple aphorisims are so important to remember and so difficult to follow. We strive to please the world around us and are afraid to follow our heart. We need to create a world where our students are not afraid to believe Emerson and be free of the fear societal judgements.

As I think about encouraging students to find out who they are outside the influences of society, I think about teachers who have trouble finding their voice and identity in the classroom. It took me a few years and a great friend and mentor to help me find me. I'm not sure I'd still be teaching if I hadn't found me. For the teachers out there still looking to find who they are or want to show their real self to the classroom, I will say to you what I said to my students,

"What are you waiting for?"

Hugs and High Fives,

Nick