School has started this week and I am anxiously excited! It seems that I have always felt this way about school since I was little. I would lay out my favorite back-to-school ensemble, set out my new book-bag and lunchbox, and I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep the night before! I would fantasize about the first day, worry over my teachers, and look forward to seeing friends.
… and yet again I have these butterflies in my stomach! I’m still anxious and excited but in a different way. I’m working towards one of the most rewarding challenges in my life. In preparation of the start of school, I have to believe that I can do it. Besides believing in myself, I also have to be open and available to wherever this pursuit of knowledge will take me.
So to help me through this first week of school I want to contemplate on how deep I want to learn so that I can start this year with a good attitude. To illustrate my thinking my dad has a great sermon where he asks a simple question, “How deep is your spirituality?” He goes on to explain that there are many different levels of spirituality and religion. These levels are a metaphor and correspond to where water reaches the body when standing in a river or lake. Therefore, it is possible to have ankle-deep, knee-deep, and waist-deep spirituality. You’re level of spirituality relates to how well you can cross a river or lake. For instance, when one has ankle-deep spirituality, one can run through the river very easily by taking off one’s shoes and socks. In other words, no one knows that you have spirituality. In knee-deep water, it’s a little harder to cross and one has to roll up his/her pants or dress to cross. Consequently, it’s a little more visible that you crossed through water but any evidence of spirituality will quickly dry up. Being waist-deep in a lake is very difficult and requires that your clothes get soaked. Therefore, it is very visible that you have spirituality in your daily life.
This is a great metaphor but for this post I don’t expect you to think about your spirituality. I am asking how deep do you reflect on your own life?
In other words, how deep is your reflection? Is it ankle-deep where you haven’t contemplated your life’s journey in a long time? Is it knee-deep where you reflect every know and then? Or is it waist-deep where it is evident that you look back on your life to help see where you are going in the future? This is a perfect question to ask when thinking about the many roles that one plays in life (i.e. mother, husband, friend, supervisor, colleague, mentor, client, caregiver, citizen, etc.) and how they intersect.
As I contemplate my own roles of scholar/practitioner/citizen, I ask the same question to myself in regards to reflecting, “How deep is my reflection.”
Because education is about learning and teaching, educators are required to be reflective. One has to think like an educator. In reflection, we can continually assess and evaluate our efforts with research and experience. Educator-philosopher John Dewey’s work attests to reflections, especially his notion of “education as reconstruction”. Dewey suggests that experience is the context from which learning emerges, but it is really in the reconstruction of experience that this happens.”
I reflect to make sure that I’m doing my best to help underrepresented students attain college readiness, access, and success. I reflect to make sure that I’m reading and researching the latest data, articles, and policies in higher education to be an effective educator leader. I reflect to make sure that I’m a true citizen by voting not only in federal, state, or local elections but that I vote for my representative in the staff council elections and Pitt Graduate school meetings.
So how deep will my reflection be? Will I gloss over books and/or write papers that only deal with issues on the surface. Or will I submerge myself in the texts to understand and struggle with the key messages? Will I incorporate my voice in my papers or give vague opinions?
Writing this blog has made me excited for this year. Like life, it will be full of challenges and achievements. Therefore, I want to use the power of reflection as a way to help myself and others be open and take life to a new level. In essence, I hope you’re not satisfied with just being, ankle-deep, knee-deep, or waist-deep. After reflecting what I want in life, I want to submerge in my work and only come up for air to share my experiences.
PlainSpeak (PS): We can’t have a worthwhile journey if we don’t reflect on our own thoughts, words, and/or actions to move to a new level.