Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I love Edutopia and the collaborative spirit that it promotes among educators, parents, students, and all of those who are the beneficiaries of reading its posts. As a twenty five year veteran of K-12, I enjoyed many years of classroom teaching. I loved the work of teaching. That said, with many years spent in isolation, as a second language teacher, when the objectives turned toward collaboration, I jumped at the chance! Although now retired, I want to take that leap again, and I am grateful for a place to just that. So I would like to open this conversation.
As one who's EI may be my strongest intelligence, I do want to say that I believe that the strength of my EI, and that of many of some of my most creative students came as the result of some less than positive experiences as children. Take away anyone's right to express human emotions, and you will find those emotions that when finally given the opportunity, will come bursting through. Am I grateful that I had those experiences? Well, let's say I am still working on it. To find gratitude in those experiences is to release the negativity for the understanding that those experiences were ultimately opportunities that allowed me to continue to endeavor beyond the limitations that those same experiences had posed on me as a child. To read an article, however, that indicates that extreme gratitude is the attitude, is a bit disconcerting for me.
If gratitude carries the weight that some of the articles I have read here have posed, if indeed we are to be grateful just to be alive these days, 'is it possible' that that same extreme gratitude stifles our creativity a bit toward collaboratively solving some of the issues that surround us, such as limiting the use of firearms, working to eliminate extreme poverty, resolving high unemployment, and generally creating a healthier and more just world?
Let's talk about 'resentment' for just a moment. I would agree that resentment is not healthy. . . most of the time, and certainly in the kind of massive amounts that keep us stuck in that one emotion. But when we lower the price of fuel, and we are so grateful to pay less that the discussion of finding alternative sources of energy begins to die down; when we are so grateful to be asked to do the kinds of things that we are asked to do as teachers that we succumb to a one way (Common Core) is the right way approach to education, I have to ask myself if 'gratitude' might not be limiting our progress just a bit.
Over many months now, I have been looking at a number of opportunities that might present themselves in the idea of adapting the National Wellness Institute's Six Dimensions of Wellness as a secondary vehicle for a national policy on education. Those Six Dimensions are social, emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and vocational. Within the dimensions, I see a pluralistic approach to education that promotes ALL of us, working to make a more compassionate, unified, and loving world together, yet giving us permission to adapt to our own belief systems, faiths, linguistic preferences. The Six Dimensions provide an underpinning that would allow us to approach our 'personal sustainable development' first, and then approaching that of helping others. I believe it is in helping others that we can find gratitude, as we repair a world that truly needs us to work together.