It’s been a couple of decades since my own graduate work in sociology and education had me analyzing the world around us. This past weekend’s events almost caused me to pull out the old textbooks to read up on social change theory. I didn’t (to the great relief of my family) so let’s just agree there’s a lot going on.
I don’t think the world needs me to weigh in on what I believe is right or wrong with Canadian politics, the media or the state of our nation. There are enough people doing that already. And besides, my job isn’t to tell our students what I think insomuch as it’s my job to offer them a proposed set of shared values, provocations to ponder their world and brave space to share what they think and feel. By virtue of the fact that we have 240 students undertaking this process of intellectual and emotional growth at various stages in their own development, it’s a given that we’re going to end up with a lot of different perspectives about the world around us. And I would like to emphasize now that each and every one of those perspectives is meaningful and important to that individual and must be heard.
We’ve been through a lot as a society, as a school and as individuals. I am proud of the fact that our school community has weathered the storm better than many. (Dare I say most?) But I also know that we’re tired. We’ve been unwilling participants on a long and arduous journey that’s taken a lot of twists and turns. We’ve felt very little control to decide how and when we want to travel the road we’re on. And we keep being informed that our ETA is changing. To make matters worse, I’m not sure anyone can even tell us anymore where we’re actually going to end up.
In times of difficulty, I often think back to the Serenity Prayer that hung on the wall in my grandmother’s dining room (right beside Robert Burn’s iconic grace). For those who aren’t familiar with the Prayer, it goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Personally, it’s the serenity part that trips me up more often than not. I’m good at the change part because I am, by nature, a person of action. I’m a problem solver who wants to make things better for other people. I am fearless when it comes to defending my family and, I will add, every child in my care. I’m also smart enough to recognize when things are beyond my control. But despite that knowledge, I still rail against the universe for a good few minutes before I accept the fact that I need to move on and focus on the things I can affect. (Lately, I’ve taken to singing the theme song to Frozen under my breath. I find it helps.)
As we travel what we all hope is the last leg of this unprecedented journey, my wish for our community is to channel the Serenity Prayer and hang on tightly to our shared values of determination, imagination, resilience, kindness and insight. Let’s stay focused on the things we can change, tackle roadblocks with creative insight, determination and resilience, and above all, show kindness to one another but also to ourselves. I do believe we’re almost there. Let’s do our best to arrive with our sense of community intact and strengthened for the future.