Overcoming despair, fear, and oppression…I’m not sure what attracts me to these themes, but they certainly do attract me. It’s so easy to relax and say, “Hey, things are just great!” when in fact, they’re not. And, while one has to be careful that you don’t overindulge those feelings of despair, anger, helplessness, calling them out, acknowledging that they are present can be liberating.

Recently, Tom Hoffman had a post where he discussed some of the challenges we face as educators. Vicki Davis jumped in and shared THE big challenge–high stakes tests. Over the last few months, years even, I’ve certainly given a lot of lip service to “hating the test.” The constraint of high stakes testing, the culture of fear and paranoia–“Triple-check everyone to make sure they’re not cheating !”–that dominates our schools reminds me of Christian tales.

Maybe you know which story I mean. It’s the one where the Devil has possession of the World, it is within his power to do whatever he wants. But some day, all will be made right. Some day, we will all be free. Whatever your religious beliefs, spiritual perspective, this kind of story is attractive. It’s attractive because it is a promise that what is good will triumph over the daily challenges we face, that we will endure through the despair that threatens to restrict our creativity, enslave our spirit, and restrict us to a mundane existence.

That’s the beauty of being in educational technology. While the rest of the world fails, one group endures. From age to age, one administration to the next, there is one group that keeps the beacon of transformation burning bright. That’s us, the educational technology folks. When freedom comes, when at last good triumphs, how will we respond?

“Mandela made a grand, elegant, dignified exit from prison and it was very, very powerful for the world to see. But as I watched him walking down that dusty road, I wondered whether he was thinking about the last 27 years, whether he was angry all over again. Later, many years later, I had a chance to ask him. I said, ‘Come on, you were a great man, you invited your jailers to your inauguration, you put your pressures on the government. But tell me the truth. Weren’t you really angry all over again?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But,’ he said, ‘when I felt that anger well up inside of me I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate then they would still have me.’ And he smiled and said, ‘I wanted to be free so I let it go.’ It was an astonishing moment in my life. It changed me.”
Source: Bill Clinton’s Story on the Freeing of Nelson Mandela via I Can’t Say That!

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