What lies beyond

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond.

She says,

“The paths often fork and always seem steep. You just have to keep stepping out, risk being vulnerable, learn as you go from both masters and your own observations, and explore what could be.” 

How apt a description for learners and teachers alike. The focus of a teacher’s work is always on what lies beyond; encouraging learners to step out, take those risks, embrace vulnerability, and explore the unknown. Each journey is unique with its own periods of calm interrupted by rough patches and inclines that require both teacher and learner to step beyond comfort and what is familiar.

While learners are appreciated for who they are, and for their achievements, in each moment, a teacher is always stretching them to grow towards the possibilities of an unknown future; preparing learners to grasp, and create, new opportunities.

In Are you ready to embrace the future? published in July 2014, I introduced you to Tony Ryan, learning consultant and futurist. In his online seminar Future-proofing Kids, Tony says,

“Many of the children alive today in Western societies will still be around in the 22nd Century. How can we possibly predict what they will experience between now and then? And if we can’t do that, then how do we best prepare them for whatever is up ahead?”

I listed, as essential to successfully living in that unknown future, the development of the following attitudes and character traits:

  •  Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Resourcefulness
  • Resilience
  • Able to seek solutions to problems
  • Openness to new ideas and possibilities
  • Creativity
  • Divergent thinking
  • Questioning
  • Optimism

These add to basic levels of literacy and numeracy and the ability to critically evaluate material; for example, using information about an author’s credentials and purpose, and understanding the ways texts are constructed to persuade.

On his website, Tony Ryan says,

“The world up ahead will be amazing, but it will take each of us to push our intellect and our spirit beyond all previous possibilities.”

He describes the focus of his work as supporting others to do just that

In addition to educating for the future, teachers need to see past the labels to the truths that lie within, encouraging all learners to stretch beyond what they thought was possible. I hope there was a teacher in your life who enriched your journey.

For the teachers among you: know the importance of your role and the effect on all learners when you help them see the value of self and open their eyes to their own potential. When you help them step beyond the limits imposed by others, you help them create possibilities in their own, and our collective, futures.

It is from this perspective that I have written my response to Charli’s flash challenge.

Beyond surface features

The registrar ushered him to the doorway and promptly disappeared.  He stared blankly: hair askew, face dotted with remnants of meals past, shirt lopsided and collar awry, shoes scruffy. Another needy child. You name it, he had it: split family, mother in jail, successive foster homes, sixth school in two years, learning difficulties, generally unresponsive, prone to aggressive outbursts …  

No magic ball, just a futures optimism, she saw beyond the exterior to the potential within. In a moment, she was there, smiling, taking his hand, reassuring. “Everyone, say good morning to Zane. Let’s welcome him into our class.”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

20 thoughts on “What lies beyond

  1. TanGental

    I read an article at the weekend about a couple of historians awho have been championing the idea of how we delude ourselves we can predict future outcomes because we are confident we can explain past events once they have happened even if, like Brexit and Trump the opinion formers never saw them coming. In a way your post makes the point that failing to see beyond what we e seen before to explain what will come risks the sort of stereotyping that loses children, people generally in fact through the crack. Your flash identifies that beautifully.
    And a quick apology. If I’ve been absent her it’s becaus WP has stopped emailing me notifications of your posts. Heaven knows why. You aren’t alone either. I’m not sure how to correct it and the little Happinesss Hamsters seem incapable of dealing with it too. Anyway Happy New Year. PS and ignore Anne about optimism. She’s never going to get with the programme poor deluded woman!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Geoff. It’s good to see you here again. Pity about your WP notifications. I assume you’ve checked the ‘manage your subscriptions’ and ‘blogs I follow’ menu options? The internet does funny things at times – has a mind of its own.
      I’m pleased the post and flash resonated with you. I think we (collectively) have much to learn from lessons in 2016. I hope they’re not going to be as hard as they appear.
      Thanks for your NY’s wishes. I wish you a wonderfully enjoyable 2017 also!

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  2. julespaige

    Perhaps it is now…Kindness being a prerequisite for teaching. Though I know it hasn’t always been the case. I had a teacher who must have been ‘grandfathered’ into her job. Scary as all get out. And we had to deal with the same teacher for our two who I believe was more fit to teach college than grade school…

    Yes, old bridges can be magical. I have another friend from across the pond who had never seen the type of covered bridge I spoke of.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_covered_bridges_in_Lancaster_County,_Pennsylvania

    ah…here is the one I spoke of:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landis_Mill_Covered_Bridge

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think kindness should be a prerequisite for teaching. 🙂
      Funny you use the term “scary as all get out”. The covered bridges reminded me of “Sleepy Hollow” (the ones you linked to are cetainly like that of the story) and that term seems reminiscent of it too. We don’t have any bridges like those here.

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  3. Pingback: Beyond This Point « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. Charli Mills

    It occurs to me, after reading your post and understanding your perspective, how short-sighted it is to critique teachers according to test scores. Tests might measure what was or wasn’t learned in a lesson or subject, but to make tests the focus of education is so foolish. We need educators who can prepare students for unknown futures. And students need someone to see their potential. The best teachers were the ones who helped me glimpse what they saw, giving me something within myself to develop. Those are the teachers I recall vividly. Your flash is full of hope and well-written to show how subtle it is for a teacher to lead the way to meet those needs in her classroom.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli. I very much appreciate your thoughtful response to my post. Your reflection on it is very profound and clarifies my position well. It is a wonderful thing when teachers can help students glimpse the potential they hold, and even better if they can ignite and foster it. Subtle, yes ever so subtle – and definitely not focused on tests and scores.

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  5. jennypellett

    Great flash again, Norah. I wonder how many Zanes we have known between us?
    I know so many excellent teachers who come alive in their classrooms but who are in need themselves of a pat on the back, a push sometimes to take that next step; a friendly reassuring chat when they feel a lesson hasn’t gone to plan. And do they always? Of course not…but for me and my learning support colleagues, we feel our role is to support our staff as much sometimes as the students. We’re in this together😉

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Jenny. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. I’m sure we could total quite a few Zanes between us. It is great that you and your colleagues are so supportive of each other. It is very important. It would be difficult to keep going without that.
      Best wishes for the new year. Continue to change lives! 🙂

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  6. Patricia Tilton

    Look how far we have come since 1990 with the speed of technology. Can’t even begin to imagine the world our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will experience. Very thought-provoking article. I enjoyed the list. Children are naturally joyful. If I added anything, I would hope teachers/parents focus on teaching children to experience “joy” as they grow into their teenage years as it will be an important coping tool. Have a joyful New Year!

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  7. Annecdotist

    You always have such an interesting angle on the prompt, Norah. A sad indictment of my experience of teachers, but I hadn’t thought of them looking beyond what’s in front of them – except, of course, on your blog. I think many teachers, and parents too, are so enveloped in managing the here and now crises, they don’t always envisage the long-term effects of their actions.
    Great list from Tony Ryan, which I remember from your previous post, but of course I consider the last one, optimism, superfluous (although it’s fine for the teacher in your lovely flash – so many don’t see beyond the surface).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words, Anne. I’m pleased I have encouraged you to think about teachers in a sightly different way. Unless we look to the future, to where we are headed, there’s not a great deal of point in trying to extend a child’s learning. Sadly, with test driven curricula we can become too focused on the immediate. I guess it is the hope that we can make a difference to children’s lives, to their futures, and to our collective future that keeps us going. I think a certain amount of optimism is required for that. 🙂

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