Remembering and recognition

Martha’s reflections on risk, inspired by what she rightly terms Barbara Ganley’s “call to arms,” make me think hard about our vocation.

It seems to me, tonight, after a fine first day of Faculty Academy, that risk is at the heart of authentic teaching and learning. Both roles are exceptionally vulnerable, and must be so, if a genuine encounter is to occur. All authentic human relationships involve profound risk. And real school requires extraordinary openness if it is to succeed.

The alternative is not safety. The alternative is death. Why give any part of ourselves to death before we must? I am not advocating recklessness; rather the opposite. Reckon the cost, and do all due diligence. Professionalism and true collegiality require no less. But seek guarantees, or seek safety for its own sake, that is, for the sake of being left alone and untroubled, and there can be no authentic educational encounter.

Today doesn’t clarify my commitment so much as it clarifies how precious the community of risky commitment truly is. It clarifies for me that I must not forget my gratitude to that community. I must not forget my calling and obligations to my colleagues in that community, no matter how tangled the circumstances or fraught the encounters.

It’s hard to keep all that clear in the dust and noise of the factory floor. I will try harder.

5 thoughts on “Remembering and recognition

  1. Risk being at the heart of teaching and learning is a reminder that we in education need to hear more often. Good teachers recognize the importance of risk in teaching. However, it can be difficult to remember that we must take risks as learners and encourage (and allow) our students to do the same.

  2. Isn’t it gratifying that the choir of the “committed to risk” is (to paraphrase Jeff McC. quoting Jerry) growing? You had no small part in that, Gardner!!

    A resonating, illuminating post. Once again, thank you.

  3. How does one make the argument to someone currently on the sidelines who has an inkling to get into the game but is fearful to do so? Risk, yes. Learning by doing, also. The risk is greater at the outset, I believe, and that can contribute to the inertia. I’d love to know what works to make people open to risk, especially those with the disposition to be a perfectionist.

  4. Dr.C,
    you’ve done it again. That is, given voice to a sentiment I share and couldn’t pinpoint myself. I have a renewed appreciation for the roll of risk-taking in creating true discourse and learning, after my semester as a part of the English education system…in which I find a sort of stagnation and indifference (like you said…the alternative is not safety, but death) where there should be RISK!
    One more reason I wholeheartedly believe the comparison you once made of Mary Wash to “the Ireland of public universities.” What was it? Small, scrappy, and punching way above its weight?

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