The Potential of a New Year

30 December 2012 · 2 comments

in Community Involvement, Creative STAR Blurb, International, RME Outdoors, Technologies, Urban

It has been a quiet festive season for me. It began with a family get-together over Christmas and, since returning from this, my head has been down and I’ve been busy writing my book, Dirty Teaching.

The opening of any book is perhaps the most important. It sets the scene for the rest of the book. Thankfully, how a new year begins does not define its course or pathway. I’m struggling with this section and will probably have to drop working on it and pick it up again once I’ve written more of the other sections.

The thing is, I have a dilemma. The current state of our planet is pretty poor. It is not in good health and a lot of the issues and problems we see in our society are a manifestation of this in one form or another. And like it or not, we all have to bear some responsibility for this situation.

And yet for me there remains a sprig of hope. Saplings growing amidst the crises and concerns. Just before Christmas, this YouTube video clip was brought to my attention via Facebook.

Out of one of the most impoverished communities in Paraguay springs the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra. Local people search through the trash and create musical instruments for the young people in the community. It is quite clear from the teenagers that are featured, that passion creates possibility. Suddenly, some of these children, through music, now have hope and the more possible futures than they and their families ever considered possible several years ago.

There is a poignant quote by Ellen Goodman which perhaps sums this up too:

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws but looking for potential.”

So whilst I agonise over the content of my book, and the ins and outs of what should be put in or left out, I am reminded that, above all, taking learning outside may seem an insignificant act to many. But for me, it symbolises hope and the potential for change. That ordinary teachers can do something to make a difference and contribute to the making the world a better place and empowering children to give themselves a future. The phrase “Think Global, Act Local” has never had more meaning, particularly in education. Recently, the Real David Cameron summed this up beautifully in this article, Shaping the Inheritance.

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the hidden opportunities in each new day”
Michael Josephson

So rather than despair for the things we haven’t done or achieved, I wish you a Happy New Year. May 2013 be a time for fulfilling our own and the potential of our children. Our future.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Bedard December 31, 2012 at 03:29

Juliet, I read your post quickly and went to bake a cake. As I mixed, I kept thinking about your post and the YouTube video and all the little rays of hope all over the world. But for some reason, I thought the name of your book was Play Dirty. It’s funny how the mind works. Maybe if you take a walk in the woods, bake a cake, or play dirty, the beginning will come. All the best in the new year, Tom.


Juliet Robertson December 31, 2012 at 09:16

Hello Tom

Thanks so much for your thoughts – I’m forever mixing up names, numbers, phrases and I guess the title of my book is going to be yet another to add to the list.

Funnily enough, one of the points I make in the book is that teachers, being the roots in their school community, have this amazing ability to extract goodness from whatever the surrounding dirt contains and channel that into making children flourish and succeed. After all they are the fruits of the system…


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