(Note: This was part of a speech I had to discard due to time constraints. I couldn't let it sit in my journal, unshared.)
I begin by asking: Why do we educate? I believe that all educators ultimately express different facets of the same gem: Namely, that we are all answering a call to be of use. This is great, we want to be useful, but why stop there? Let us ask the next logical questions: "Of use for whom? Against whom? For what? Against what?"
These are fundamental questions each of us ask ourselves- in one way or another; consciously or subconsciously. These questions drill towards the Center of our Being…and the ways we answer them are the outwardly-expressed symbols of our identity. This is why identity is so important to acknowledge and utilize in our classrooms. And we must begin and end with seeking to better understand our own identity as individual human beings.
Why must we first know who we are as educators and teachers before we enter our classrooms? Because, if we do not know where we are, then it really starts to get complicated as to where we are going. Again, I am assuming all educators are answering a call to be of use (for/against whom/what?). To do this, we must first develop a more-or-less accurate orientation to ourselves and our place within our society.
We must seek to understand where we are in the ocean of life. And once we do this, once we make this metaphoric jump, we begin to open our minds to the idea that our individual selves are not separate from others. Instead we are each like waves on the ocean’s surface, each different but still water- only water- and thus part of an immense, cosmic soup; We’re all separate, and yet all contributing our own flavor to one another in intensely intimate ways.
Let’s take one more mental jump! If we are not separate from other individual Selves, we cannot know our Self nor our place within our world without seeking to orient our very being in relation to the essence of all other beings. This awareness requires we know the identities of our young learners. This is not simply necessary, but paramount if we are to succeed at answering this call to be of use.
Now, both how and what we see…depends, in large part, on what we want to see. To do this, we must ask our fellow women and men, “What are your dreams and why are you here?” It sounds a little bit more meaningful and transformative than "Open up your books to chapter seventeen," does it not?