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teaching kids the power of their stories

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There is a power that exists in every chair in every school across the world.  The power is within us all, but remains untapped.  While we are busy teaching kids about the world outside of them, we rarely, if ever, give them time to understand the vast and rich world within.  Though mental health is a major determinant of success in life and school, curricula for social/emotional development has been absent from schools.

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The truth is, our greatest power resides within the power of our story.  When we teach kids to grab a hold of theirs and own it–the good, the bad, the ugly, and the magic–we show them the way to their strength, resilience, talent, compassion, and creativity.  When we teach kids to ask themselves questions like, “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” and “What do I believe?” we point them to the power within.

It is not high math and reading scores, STEM curricula, or a heavy load of extracurricular achievements that we need to face this complex world where, through technology, we are globally connected. It is through deep understanding of ourselves and our shared humanity that will ultimately bridge the great divides.

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When students are given time and space to write about their thoughts, feelings, and lives on a regular, sustained basis, they not only become elegant writers, they discover the wide-open landscape of their own possibilities.  This is the place of their greatest power.  This is the place where internal motivation takes over.  When we give students space and time to listen to their hearts and discover who they are and what they want from life, we empower them.

Every human being is spiritually driven to grow toward their greatest hopes and deepest dreams.  Our job as educators is to help students find theirs.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” -Benjamin Disraeli

This is the philosophy and assumption I bring with me to each classroom in which I teach.

I am honored to be part of a panel discussion at St. Catherine University hosting Richard Gold of Pongo Teen Writing, moderated by Mary Tinucci on The Healing Power of Poetry: Empowering Disenfranchised Youth through Self-Expression Wednesday, April 8th from 5:00-6:30.  This event is free and open to the public.  We would love to see you there.

(photos by Wing Young Huie, taken of my class at Homewood Studios. More photos of this class are displayed at North Central Regional Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota).

 

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