November 17, 2020-

Two of the most odious, misguided phrases in the English language are “Don’t get smart!” and “What are you, a wise guy?” Intelligence and wisdom, viewed as threats to the security of a grown human, say far more about the perceiver than about the perceived.

In all my years in education, the single most admirable group of people I have encountered are those who not only think for themselves, but speak up for themselves and classmates, as well. I don’t mean the loud, braying complainers; rather, those who speak respectfully, but eloquently and with gravitas.

It is nice to see this, when it happens, especially in an educational setting. I have seen children as young as five years of age say “Enough! This is not how things ought to be!” It does my heart good when adults don’t quash such self-advocacy. So it was, that I praised those who made a perfectly sensible request, in the last hour of class, this afternoon.

The most cogent aspect of such early self-advocacy is that there is no slow burn, no festering, unspoken resentment. There is no ennui, no apathy being seeded. There is, instead, the organic rise of a responsible and self-assured generation, which will be more likely to take its place in society, without a perceived need to engage in mayhem.

So it is, that in the rest of my work with students, in the month that I have left of fulltime work, and in the special assignments I will be asked to take on, between January and May, the focus will be on both fostering the thought process and on their self-advocacy- which are both outgrowths of accepting responsibility for one’s well-being.

I say: “Get smart; be wise!”

4 thoughts on “Self-Advocacy

  1. That’s good to teach. In elementary school, I worked with the playground king. Everyone let me sit by trees. I was a quiet kid who wasn’t even around half the time because I was in special education, or I’d snuck out to the park. I was able to secure sodas and candy from the laundry for two years, until I was caught. I always wore this ugly leather jacket with a map inside. One of the teachers took it away from me, and boy was the king of the playground mad. He got it back for me.

    I have a hard time standing up for myself because of how I’m perceived in society. I will be insanely punished for something rather minor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My life in school was spent being a goodwill ambassador across neighbourhoods, and nieghbouring towns,as I got older. I wasn’t particularly athletic or street smart, but I did know that everyone craved respect and dignity-for which I stood.

      Liked by 1 person

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