Now more than ever, we need our educators to just focus on educating the heart of our students. While we are all faced with the fears inherent in a society in turmoil by a pandemic, the fears in the educator profession are exacerbated by new ways of operating. Let's remind each other that fear is ok, and even healthy.
It wasn’t a coincidence in timing that I came across A Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer (2017) during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it sure felt like it. I’ve gobbled up many journal articles and texts that reflect on the profession of teaching during my transition into the education industry, but none that presented a philosophical look at the relationship to the teacher’s inner self like this one. Diving into this book, I easily got caught in chapter two, “A Culture of Fear,” because the advice is so relevant to our teaching community who is amid a monumental shift. Regardless of how temporary, our current environment might be, the call to our teachers right now is gigantic and one that requires a commitment to push past fear.
While we are all faced with the fears inherent in a society turmoiled by a pandemic, the fears in the educator profession are exacerbated by new ways of operating, new ways of communicating, and even fear of doing something that risks job security. Inherently in each of these really lies fear of failing, fear of not understanding and/or fear of looking foolish. Now is the time to remember and remind each other that fear is ok, and even healthy. Palmer (2017) reminds us that fear can help us learn and grow and even play a positive role in the lives of students. Students will benefit from watching our teachers learn and grow.
So, a note of advice to all teachers working through fear right now, refocus on the simplest and just work to “educate the heart.” If you’ve never listened to Parker Palmer discuss his philosophy, take four minutes and do this for yourself (Center for Courage and Renewal, 2016). He’ll remind you to just give your students the gift of who you are. This is all we really need from you right now.
Palmer, P. (2017). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher's life. San Francisco: Wiley.
Center for Courage and Renewal (2016). 01 Educating the Heart - The Courage to Teach Guide [Video]. Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/155181447