The theme that stands out for me among the readings is the idea of becoming vulnerable. This idea is in the talk given by Brene Brown. It is also in DTL chapter 1, where it is stated plainly that daring (making oneself vulnerable) is in knowing one will fail and yet going all in anyway. It is also in the concept of the promotion of literacy discussed by bell hooks. This is evident in the way hooks explains democratic education: it is not something that should be denied anyone; rather it is something that exists for all and that should be accessible by all. By offering everything to everyone, one holds nothing back for oneself. The teacher becomes vulnerable so that the learner can become empowered. It is the ultimate act of givingand that sense of giving is really the underlying theme that I see flowing through all the works we have looked at thus far.
In my personal and professional experiences, I have always found that I gain nothing when I try to protect myself from being hurt or disappointedbut that I gain everything when I open myself to scorn or failure and make myself vulnerable. If I dont try, I always wonder what would have happened. There is always that regret. But if I try and give all, there is nothing to wonder about: I did what I could. And maybe I succeeded and maybe I failedbut I tried.
Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness, but in the classroom, it can be a strength. That is one of the main points that bell hooks makes in the idea of promoting democratic education. Being vulnerable means being open to new ideas and giving up the need to be right all the time. It shows that you are willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes. This can create a more open and supportive learning environment for everyone in the class. When students feel safe enough to be vulnerable, they are more likely to take intellectual risks, participate in discussions, and ask questions. They are also more likely to remember what they have learned and apply it in new situations. In short, vulnerability matters in the classroom because it fosters a deeper level of learning. When students feel safe enough to be vulnerable, they are able to reach their full potential as learners.
Likewise, in a democracy, vulnerability should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. When people are open and honest about their vulnerabilities, it allows for greater understanding and empathy between people. It also encourages a more honest exchange of ideas, as people are more likely to share their true beliefs when they feel safe. In democratic education, as hooks explains, we as teachers must find ways to encourage and promote the sharing of ideas and knowledge in ways that do not reinforce the culture of domination. The structures of domination do not foster democratic values or ideals. They squash themand so we have to be welcoming of diversity of speech because that is how we are able to be more inclusive, according to hooks.
Sometimes, however, I feel like we do need to guide because so much of the knowledge that was handed down to us does not get passed on thoroughly enough when we take too much time to share with one another. I have felt in the past that I do need to buckle down and become the authority for the sake of imparting knowledge to the kids Im supposed to be helping. I know this goes against what hooks is saying, but if I am going to teach, I cant help but feeling that on some levelat some pointI have to be a teacher, an instructor, an authority figureand not just a facilitator.
It is sometimes hard for me personally and professionally to find the balance between being a teacher and a friend. As a teacher, it is important to build relationships with your students. These relationships can provide support and motivation both inside and outside of the classroom. However, I feel that it is also important to maintain boundaries. For example, you might share some personal information with your students, but you wouldn’t want to share everything about your life. The same is true for professional relationships. You want to be friendly and approachable, but you also want to maintain a certain level of distance. Finding the balance between being a teacher and a friend can be difficult, but it is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with your students.
I understand, though, that maybe what I need to do more of at this point in my personal and professional life is to make myself more vulnerable. As the readings suggest, vulnerability fosters courage and creativity, as people are more likely to take risks when they feel supported. By becoming vulnerable as professional educators, we are allowing learners to become vulnerable tooto take that step into the unknown with us, where we will all be transformed. I have definitely experienced this as a learner and as a teacher: nothing is gained in either case if one stays rooted to one spot thinking this is where safety and security can be found. We have to move to grow.
Yes, it is true: the readings have shown to me that vulnerability is essential for building trust, both within communities and between different groups, and especially between teachers and students. When people feel comfortable being vulnerable with each other, it creates a sense of shared purpose and mutual respect. In short, vulnerability is an essential part of democratic education because it fosters understanding, honesty, courage, creativity, and trust. The challenge that I face is welcoming vulnerability when I feel I must be an authority.
Brene Brown. The power of vulnerability. Retrieved from
Dare To Lead. Chapter 1.
Hooks – Democratic Education.
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