Essential Conversations for Any Educator

Essential Conversations for Any Educator A few weeks ago I met with faculty members at Miller School of Albemarle upon their return from summer break. Our animated conversations can, and should, continue among teachers anywhere, at any level. Please join us.

Part of philosophy’s allure for me lies in the opportunity to hit the refresh button and consider concepts and meanings as if for the first time. We spent our morning doing just that—explorers without a map seeking clarity about the meanings of education, success communication, and service.

We considered the heart of education and success together. In The Philosopher’s Table I write: “The root of education suggests a process of bringing forward, leading up, drawing out. I picture individuals climbing a steep hill together, teachers and students in spry pursuit of knowledge. The word conveys positive images, this movement forward, up, and out so we can stand on higher ground.” We took off from this small start. I asked that they think back on a powerful learning experience in their lives, in or out of the classroom, what they learned and why it remains memorable. Interestingly, one common theme emerged: Failure teaches marvelous lessons. Not knowing knocks on the door of knowledge.  Loss gives birth to victory. As the school year plays out, thoughts hopefully will return to the meaning of teacher, of student, of education.

How desperately we need a refresher course on the meaning of success. Knowing what it’s not matters. Success is not fulfilling the expectations of others nor fitting snugly into predetermined societal roles. Success can't be measured by money or acquisition. My partners for the morning were left with the task of defining the meaning of success for themselves, personally and professionally, for each student individually, and for their school.

After a break, we discussed the ingredients of genuine communication and I offered the concept of service as one begging for ongoing roundtable chats. I define communication in How Philosophy Can Save Your Life as the “synchronized, sincere exchange of ideas and feelings. Verbal, written, or wordless, it wraps us together.” How can we engage in more fruitful conversations with colleagues, students, parents, everyone? Since service holds a central place in the mission of MSA, let’s ask again (and again) what it is and why it matters. What does service teach? Reveal? Keep talking!

Come along for our last activity that morning…and stay all year long! I asked what one idea each teacher would like to revisit this academic year, one topic for ongoing conversation among themselves and with their students. Here’s a partial peek: Presence; Mission; Fulfillment; Process; Goals; Vision; Respect; Happiness; Integrity; Leadership; Selflessness; Perseverance; Failure.

Refresh. Are you sure? Think again.

Ready to Start Again