In a basic sense, the arts are about saying “I,” and what underlies that risk is some kind of confidence in the self. And this sense of self is at the root of all we are and do….This sense of self serves teachers well every minute they are with children, and if the teachers have it, they know something about how to draw it forth from children. M.C. Powell
Risk by definition involves exposure to danger. It is a double-edge sword that can keep us safe, but it can also hold us back from making changes that really matter. I’ve taken a number of risks in my life and choosing to become a teacher was one of those risks. I entered in to education at a time when there was a surplus of teachers. I also chose to study art; neither of those decisions were lucrative choices and those seeking to give me guidance questioned both. And in a world that measures success by bank accounts, perhaps there is some truth in the advice I was given. I believe, however that people tend to learn more and experience personal growth if they take risks, at least that has been true for me. Each time I took a risk I gained immense confidence and that confidence has served me well in the classroom and beyond. And throughout all this, the arts have been a tool for supporting my decisions allowing me to tap in to my intuitive abilities as well as logical and linear thought processes that facilitated inner awareness and increased self-knowledge. The arts have also supported me by providing emotional-regulation through both process and reflection. I also learned more about taking risks with every stroke of a brush, collage or poem. Often the ideas I saw in my minds-eye rarely, if ever, appeared on the page. The image or poem had a life of it’s own and appeared through it’s own violition, for better or worse. But that was the risk I was willing to take. With the willingness to experiment, explore and to learn from mistakes through artistic expression, risk becomes less frightening and perhaps more approachable. I’ve encouraged risk-taking in my classes and in so doing, my students have learned to take steps that may be frightening, or intimidating or downright scary. I’ve had this quote pasted in a journal that I’ve carried with me over the years and it became the inspiration for the drawing. “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin
When have you taken a risk in your teaching life and how did you grow? What does that look like in art or poetry? Perhaps the following poem will provide you inspiration.
A poem by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art
Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side.
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!