I LOVE seeing courage in action. Witnessing it is inspiring and can fill one with hope. It can start a movement and ignite change.
Courage comes in many forms and has many definitions. So let’s be clear on the courage that I am talking about. In the most basic of definitions, I’m talking about the courage it takes to truly be yourself. Possessing and displaying this courage is hard enough as an adult. The struggle to truly be yourself and not conform to be like others is extremely hard with our youth. When we see this level of courage being displayed in middle school and in high school, it looks so amazing it presents itself as heroic. This courage swims upstream from the norm. It brings out the best in anyone that possesses it. Imagine equipping kids at a young age to do the following:
Listen to their internal moral compass to “dig in” and oppose something they know isn’t right.
Walk away from a crowd or a friendship if their values are not shared or respected.
Stand up to a crowd that marginalizes an individual or a group of people.
Look an adult in the eye and respectfully disagree with a viewpoint or philosophy.
See something wrong in the world and begin to problem-solve or lead a movement of change.
Stand up tall and let the world see their gifts and flaws, and feel no shame in letting those gifts shine!
Courage may be the most valuable tool for greatness as well as the biggest barrier to growth. As a society, we celebrate the courageous ones. We see their ability to lean into the wind and do what is right. We find ourselves saying how lucky we are that “those people” are in our world. We find ourselves saying, “I wish I had that courage.” or “I wonder what I would do in that situation.”
We are in awe of courage and see its powerful value in society. We see entire chapters in the biographies of the greats dedicated to how their courage lead to such greatness. We wish we were more courageous and are grateful that we have people filling the courageous role.
So, here’s the question:
If we know that courage leads to a higher level of potential greatness…
If we know that courage allows kids to be comfortable with themselves and ultimately, happier…
If we know that courage leads to the ability to speak up and contribute…
If we know that courage leads to the desire and passion to ignite and provoke positive change…
If we know that courage is a powerful tool for standing up to the bullying epidemic…
If we know that courage is the chief combatant to the marginalization of groups of people…
WHY ARE WE NOT RELENTLESS IN EQUIPPING OUR STUDENTS WITH COURAGE?
I believe we just need to get intentional with it’s development and cultivation. We simply need to embrace what we know about the value of courage. Then, we must get purposeful with implementing methods and strategies that will instill in our youth this extremely valuable skill.
When we decided that kids needed to be able to understand math more conceptually and focus on application, we got intentional with new strategies and implementation methods.
When we decided that technology demanded a bigger role in our students education, we shifted our thinking, created technology departments in school districts, and invested millions in hardware to meet those needs.
When we decided that collaboration was a vital skill for 21st century learners, we redesigned lesson plans and philosophies so group work would become the norm within classrooms.
LET’S DECIDE THAT COURAGE IS A FOCAL POINT FOR STUDENTS AND TAKE ACTION!
It’s really that simple. When we decide, as an industry, to shift our focus to what we believe truly matters, change will happen. From the top leadership all the way to the teachers in the trenches, let’s value and pursue courage.
First, Model courage and the many different ways it can be used. Then,Celebrate examples of kids being courageous. Finally, Equip them to be courageous in the real world.
Practice and model scenarios that will demonstrate courageous behavior. Intentionally put kids into situations where they can be courageous. Allow them to feel the results of that moment which can greatly increase the likelihood of their willingness to do it again. Putting them in rehearsed and choreographed settings will allow kids to learn how to be courageous in a safe and comfortable setting to begin with.
There are countless youtube videos and online sites that highlight kids choosing to be courageous. Every adult has a story from their life where they used or witnessed courage. Parents and community members can come in and share their stories of courage. We can make them truly teachable moments by walking students through the scenes and breaking down the decision making process. Allow them to witness the courageous process. Discuss how in almost every scenario, the easy thing to do is to NOT be courageous. Courageous people don’t take the easy path. They take the right path.
Through this process, kids will develop the want and need to be that courageous person .
Now they are ready to begin their courageous journey. When they find courage… CELEBRATE IT! Celebrate examples of courage that are age appropriate any chance you get. When kids see teachers, parents, and society place a value in being courageous, they will shift their values.
Celebrate any kid that goes against the flow of traffic because he would rather be right than popular.
Celebrate someone choosing friends who make them happy, support their ideas and allow them to stay loyal to their moral compass.
Celebrate kids who debate a topic in class by standing up for what they think is right even if it goes against the majority’s views.
Celebrate a kid who champions for the classmates that appear weak to their peers. Empathy and courage go hand in hand!
Celebrate the kid who respectfully digs in when they know are right, even with adults.
Now it’s time to release them to the world. If we have done our job, they are equipped to be courageous. They are equipped to inspire courage. Most importantly, they are equipped to encourage their peers, and eventually their own kids, to be courageous. It’s a cycle that needs to start and spread like wildfire. Equip them to be the positive force that we all NEED them to be.
If this connected with you, how about a follow and a share!?! Go back and check out my original post, Something’s Missing where I kick off a series involving the C words that are missing in our students. Check out some of my other C-posts, Communication, Confidence, Creativity, Connection, Constructivists, Community, and Catalyst. I greatly value all opinions and arguments. Engage in the comments and help continue this discussion. I look forward to what you all have to say.