It is a fact that we live in troubled times.No one can really question that.Wars raging,refugees flooding Europe to seek out a better life for themselves and their families.Their trials and tribulations are all over the media and the end to their suffering doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight.We have ravaged Mother Earth and its creatures for our own benefit-with detrimental consequences to our life,health and we face an uncertain future,especially given the climatic changes.The financial crises are rampant in Europe and elsewhere in a world where the rich seem to get richer and the poorer ones seem wallow further down in the swamp of poverty and despair.Politicians get greedier and more corrupt with every passing year.
Not a pretty picture,is it?It is not.That is probably the reason people's psychology is below zero.Especially here in Greece,everyone has lost their smile.Furrowed brows and solemn,desperate faces wander the streets wondering how to make it through another day.I guess there are many other places in the world where one can see only gloom and sadness,without hope for the future.The world seems to be a pretty dark place.No light,no hope,no dreams.For what good is it to hope, to dream if one has no money,no home to dream in or nobody to believe in them?
I have been told I am a hopeless dreamer by many.An optimist wearing pink-shaded glasses, always trying to find something good or hopeful.I think I have even been called nuts,unrealistic,a fool.But I prefer to be that.For I DO see light.I DO see hope.I DO believe people should dream on. I DO BELIEVE that the younger generation can be TAUGHT to make a difference in this crazy world.They told me:"Don't you see what the world is like out there?Don't you understand the problems people are faced with today?"Yes,of course I do.I am not blind.I am not unrealistic and I am certainly not a fool.I fiercely believe in the power of kindness,education and dreams. I believe in the young ones I am teaching.I SEE them for who they are.ENDLESS potential.That is where our focus should be.Not on the darkness.The light,the potential,the future.
You see,I was always told to believe what my eyes could see and what my brain told me.Doing so in our times is pretty depressing.Seeing ONLY with your eyes can make you insane just by the darkness and despair out there.Whatever shimmering light there is, we just can't see it.Our eyes can't acknowledge it.That's where I beg to differ.I choose to see the light.And before someone tries to call me a hopeless fool,I'll tell you I've been in pretty dark places inside.Not prety,dreamy ones.Ugly,bottomless pits of despair where it was pitch dark.But again,I chose to crawl back up again.And I realised I just can't live like this anymore.The dark consumes you,claims you as its prisoner for life if you let it.DON'T.There is always hope.The light is there,waiting.Open your heart and see it.Feel it and bask in its glow and allow yourself to dream and plan a better future.
The rant above is essentially a prelude to my main theme.Let's go back to the subject of light.It is a matter of perception and willingness to see it,accept it and let it in.One of those lights is Reshma Saujani,founder of Girls Who Code.I stumbled upon her randomly and listened to what she had to say.So much of it resonated with my philosophy on life,on teaching the next generation,that I just had to share this with you.Essentially,what she says is that girls,being half or more of the world's population are taught to be docile,kind,not taking any risks but strivingto be perfect.I have met so many girls who embodied exactly these traits that I got angry.Boys are encouraged to take risks,to dare,not be afraid of failure and persist.Girls are taught the exact opposite.Don't take risks,don't fail,be perfect.Why the double standard?That is why women today are a minority in business and government positions.These outdated indoctrinations and beliefs should be done away with.I have taught many a distressed girl,chasing after an A+,fearing her parents'reaction if she didn't.Too many are afraid to speak in class,lest they make a mistake and become ridiculed.I have done my best over the years to work with these girls,encouraging and nudging along the way.Not an easy task.But so satisfying when you see a girl budding before you and becoming braver day by day,becoming the fighter she is,embodying her light and potential.
Like Reshma Saujan points out,girls should be taught bravery, to dream,to take risks,live fully,fail and get up again.Only then will we allow them to fully shine and contribute to the world,which needs it sorely,I might add.It can longer be allowed,especially nowadays,for girls to be afraid.Everyone's light and labour is needed to turn the world around.See, I told you I was a girl with a vision.Empower the young generation with the right knowledge and trust in their abilities and you have a force that is to be reckoned with.Every teacher who respects his profession and is passionate about making a positive change on his students, should start working more on their potential and active encouragement and belief in them.Especially girls will benefit from that.Education should be equal.The same goes for parents, too,of course.It all starts there.
Bravery above perfection,active listening and encouragement before sterile knowledge,empowerment before standardised testing and compassion before judgment.This is my philosophy on teaching and I follow it daily.I've seen shy boys and girls blossom before my eyes,much to my enjoyment....not many other feelings can beat that kind of happiness.That is my contribution to the world.So far.I hope to do a lot more.But it is really necessary that we don't let the circumstances,no matter how dark and desperate,consume us to the point of immobilisation.Let a ray of light in.Every day a bit more.Things can get better with a little more light and hope.To my fellow educators:Love your students,get close to them,listen to what they have to say.Let them in your heart and they will let you into theirs.Make them strong, allow them to dream big,be brave and become compassionate citizens of a better future.It can work.If we just but believe it strongly enough.
As always with love and light,
Here's the link to Reshma Saujan's amazing speech,should you need a pick-me-up or an inspiration:
<iframe src="https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/reshma_saujani_teach_girls_bravery_not_perfection.html" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>