“The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it—at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.” – James Baldwin 1963
There is no profession as impactful or rather as important as that of an educator; when considering the complexities of such a job, one immediately understands that to be an educator is to accept a calling. As educators we find ourselves in front of an audience in which our actions provide insight on how to navigate the world, but more importantly lays the foundation for our viewers; our scholars, to understand that the world can be as we design it.
When considering the words of Baldwin, education or educators do not simply exists within the context of four walls integrated within a building of other walls, rather educators and the education they impart on their pupils extends to all of us that have navigated society then and now. The role of any teacher, whether through parenting, traditional/innovative education, modeling or something else, is to build young men and women that are sensitivity to the systemic design of the world around us. In building such young citizens, we impart a new generation with the tools to think and understand that the world can be exactly what we yield it to be. The outcome of such power and responsibility should be focused on building an equitable world where all are valued.
How might you take up your call to be an educator today?