As I reflect on the past semester, I feel as if it’s been a blur. A rush of papers, projects, proposal writing assignments, tests, long drives to doctor appointments, endless traffic….like I’m on a treadmill that my legs can’t keep up with. Yet, amidst all of the stressors life seems to throw at us…amidst the “blurriness” of graduate school…the incredibly dedicated, passionate people I met this semester seem to stand out to me the most.
In this semester’s Contemporary Pedagogy course, I saw familiar faces from last year and encountered new friends. We are all very different, with different pasts and different goals, yet there is a common thread: passion for what we believe could change the future. We each cling to what inspires us, what drives us, what makes us graduate students to start with. Not only have I better learned what inspires me through the introspection this course calls for, but I have been further inspired by the people that surround me on Wednesday nights.
I realize that culture and traditional methods surrounding education can feel like quick sand, holding us down and pulling us deeper into the rut of knowledge isolated from humanity. I really do think, however, that we are moving out of this quick sand and onto a “firm ground”, as referenced by Parker Palmer.
Palmer identifies the new professional as someone coming back to our true mission on a “firm ground” of personal and professional identity and integrity, away from the powerful force of the value-free life around us (what I think of as “quick sand”).
I see- somewhere past the sleepless eye-bags and caffeine-immune yawns- this very passion that indicates a promising future for us as professionals. With our passion, we feel emotion; we feel attached to the reasons why we are where we are. If we can foster this emotion and use it for what Palmer identifies as institutional change, we can be what students need.
I want to take the passion I feel now about my work, specifically regarding its application to disabilities, and never let go of it. I believe that it’s my saving grace, preventing me from being swallowed by the daily pressures and “forces” I encounter; yet I can easily imagine that with these pressures growing proportionally with my involvement in institutions, my passion could take a backseat to my surroundings. I want to lead what Palmer describes as an “undivided life”, and I know by surrounding myself with his suggested “communities of discernment” like my aforementioned peers, I can allow my passion to keep driving me to seek social justice through education.