In her video “Daring Classrooms,” Brené Brown uses the phrase “no vulnerability, no learning.” Think about at least one space that has allowed you to thrive as a learner (and this doesn’t have to be a classroom). What conditions were in place that allowed you and others to take positive risks for learning? What did those spaces look like and sound like? What did it feel like to be a learner in that space? If it’s not too much of a stretch, write about any connections you see between the ideas you’re writing about and the badge you’re currently pursuing.
This past Monday, I had a long conversation with one of the very best teachers I know; I’ll call her Liz. I’m conducting a study on “sustainable learning,” what the language, tools, and practices are around that, and Liz talked about how her participation in the CSU Writing Project Institute for Sustainable Teaching a couple of summers ago allowed her to be an intellectual again. It was the space that drew her there. As she explained it, she knew that she could take risks—both emotional and intellectual–in this space, that she could share her vulnerability with the other participants because these spaces had been the norm for her in her work with the National Writing Project over the years.
When I asked her a version of the question, “What do those spaces look/feel/sound like, she actually talked about the physical space itself–the table and chair set-up that allowed folks to look one another in the eye and really listen; the light in the room which made it less institutional; the opportunity to learn with one group then move on to learn with another.
But she spent more time talking about the empathy piece. Hearing the experiences of other teachers who were enduring the strain of the profession and knowing that they can risk “not-knowing” with one another so that they could get to a place where they knew more than they could have known as individuals before made the space “hospitable.” I want to write more about this later, but time is up for today.