Today’s piece is a collaboration between T’Challa Greaves and myself.
Courage is often misconstrued as the ability to walk into a burning building and rescue people, but often courage can be much more than that.
It can be a child’s ability to confront something new.
It can be an adults ability to leave the house when suffering.
It can be anyone rising to the expectation, the burden placed upon them.
A headteacher (sick, underlying health conditions) putting the needs of the staff and the children, ahead of their own and their own families.
A doctor, putting themselves at risk, daily.
Courage comes from being authentic, honest and open, continuing this daily, regardless of the obstacles. In education, this is the career that we have chosen. Do we class ourselves as courageous? No. Do we class ourselves as heroic? No?
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what courage is. There are various definitions but let us look at a pragmatic approach to the term. In the current week, the education world is in turmoil.
Rewind to pre-crisis and to our adolescents, to our formative years, well, yes, informed our minds and choices for the future. At which point that you decide that education was for you? What was it that made you think that teaching was for you? Think back and try and visualise that moment, now actualise how you felt at that moment. What was the reasoning behind the decision to step into the classroom?
My personal ‘why’ would be focussed around ‘giving the next generation the knowledge and skills to resist and to promote the systems and structures that form their societies’. This purpose is who I am.
The pupils (and your vision for them) whether that means difficult conversation with colleagues or dealing with sensitive human resources issues. This courage comes from belief, never thoughtless obedience. Your vision gives me the impetus to make decisions, sometimes difficult one because if it fits in with the mission and if it is right by the pupils in my care, it’s the right decision.
In these times, school leaders and teachers are living their values. Colleagues are risking their health and that of their families in an effort to stem the flow of Covid-19, this courage doesn’t come from wartime rhetoric it flows from directly from that very same core purpose.
With the news that teachers are expected to go in and support children of keyworkers, courage with vision, integrity, accountability, learning, sharing, resilience is classed as one of the seven pillars of leadership (Brian Solis). It’s an attribute that we all should have. Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.
It’s at times where we are all afraid, where society is afraid, that we’re forced to draw on the courage that we never knew, or thought was there.
I want to take the time to congratulate leaders in this time of turmoil, with shoutouts to Dan Morrow, Chris Dyson, Vic Goddard and Nikki Beniams (who I have seen do a lot of the heavy lifting in our community). At every layer of any organisation, anxiety arises through uncertainty; We all know, not knowing is often worse than the actual event. In the absence of information (this not a slight at any civil servant or government, all leadership is trying) it is hard to lead, and this week I have seen nothing but grit, determination from those entrusted with the care of our young people.