Faith in Humanity & Harvest, A Teacher’s Reflection

mail-1By: Dayo Harris (Middle School Social Justice)

The demands of a teacher are many.  The demands of a teacher at a social justice school like Village Leadership Academy are both numerous and complex.  The ambitious vision and mission of VLA require an unparalleled tenacity and commitment from its teaching staff, which can feel overwhelming at times because our work involves so much more than teaching.  We practice a labor of love as we educate, protect, and prepare our students to inherit an unjust world.  We courageously confront the failures of our society as we explain systems of oppression, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia while simultaneously embracing the potential of a new world reflected in the questioning eyes of our students.  We desire them to be better than us—to love and think at greater depths.  And we hope that we inspire them to create a just world made in our collective image and imagination—for this is the work of collaboration and rebuilding.  We allow them to stand upon our shoulders so that they may see their vast horizons.  We depend upon them as they depend upon us—for now.  Teaching is the work of creativity, compassion, imagination, vision, unbounded belief, and true grit.  For love and education are timeless battlefields upon fertile land where past, present, and future converge.  Will we simply lament the inequities of our age, or will we help our students plant seeds of justice and imagine the most bountiful harvest?  I teach because I have faith in humanity and the harvest.

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2 thoughts on “Faith in Humanity & Harvest, A Teacher’s Reflection

  1. Even though I am very interested in education, I really do not know how I am receiving your blog from Village Leadership Academy. Yet, I’ve loved the two posts I’ve read, yours and the one previous by Jessica. Both are loaded with love, passion, and teaching mission. Both show you guys as “good” persons…perhaps the highest accolade that can be bestowed on anyone. And your exuberance for life, living, being, and doing is
    is without doubt. What gorgeous qualities for not only teachers, but for all human “be-ings.”

    As a medical clinician, I wonder if docs started out from home with a “dark” view of life–that it was unjust and unfair, overwhelming, daunting, oppressive, and totally devoid of objectivity, goodness and kindness. What would starting out with that premise get me? How might that attitude benefit patients, or how might that affect patients negatively? Or, should I bring “happy” from home to the workplace?

    Thanks be to God that I trained with some old docs who were very high-touch. In the Creole area of Louisiana, an old general practitioner heard a 5 year old crying in his waiting room, and told me to go with him: We both sat next to the kid and mom for 5 minutes talking about nothing–until the kid “smelled” us and became okay with us–and cried no more.

    This old Creole doc said to me: We know that the beginning is the most important part of any work–especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken. Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tale, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those we should wish them to have when they are grown?

  2. Ms. Harris, this is such a beautiful and heartfelt reflection. Yes, the vision and mission of Village Leadership Academy is ambitious, but teachers like you make it attainable. Thanks for your commitment to making our world more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

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