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edu180atl: sarah townsend 10.19.12

Yesterday in chapel, Father Mulligan touched upon one reason why it’s great to be an Episcopalian: Everyone is welcome.

We all need to belong. One of our deepest desires, Sally Vickers wrote, is “to be both thoroughly known and thoroughly liked for it.” This year I created All Girls United, a club for high school girls, because the need to belong is perhaps never greater than when you are a teenager. The girls I see in our halls are striving to be pretty, skinny, and popular – perfect – in an effort to belong. They need to know that imperfection is not only acceptable, it is inevitable.

This need to belong, and the fear of rejection that accompanies it, guides so many of our actions, prevents us from taking risks and being vulnerable, which limits our opportunities for reflection and growth. What if we could relinquish some of those fears? What risks might we be willing to take?

As teachers, we might face the fear of being wrong, making a mistake, answering a student’s question with those three terrifying words: “I don’t know.”

I have learned that it’s okay to say “I don’t know” and “I made a mistake.”

If we can be vulnerable in front of our students, perhaps they, too, can let go of some of their fears. They can stop striving for perfection – perfect scores, faces, and bodies.  Letting them know we, as adults, are okay with imperfection, is a powerful – and empowering – message.

About the Author: Sarah is a high school teacher who often doesn’t know the answers. And, at least for today, she makes no apologies for being her passionate, sometimes feisty, self.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stephen G. Kennedy #

    Perfection is not only impossible – it’s a ridiculous goal, a curse of a concept, and a direct means of killing creativity. You do a wonderful job of humanizing learning, especially for young women, by modeling that the imperfect is where joy is found, where life resides, and where happiness can be discovered. Thank you!

    October 19, 2012
  2. Nice work, Sarah. Great post.

    October 19, 2012
  3. Vanessa #

    Sing it, sister! Beautifully stated!

    October 19, 2012
  4. Wanting to belong is a natural, even beautiful, part of being human. We are not made to be alone. We want to be understood, understand, be loved, love. Sadly, though, we are also prone to fearfulness and distrust.

    I am so glad that you have created this club for all of these girls that I love and miss. I’m grateful that you are a model to help guide them to better understand that life is better lived authentically, honestly, and together!

    Thank God for “feisty” women!

    October 19, 2012
  5. Patrick Allegra #

    Feisty is good, perfection is overrated, and I have this blog bookmarked! Great post Sarah.

    October 19, 2012
  6. Lisa Braun #

    As a parent, I’d like to thank you and teachers like you, for going that extra mile and caring enough to help students learn these incredibly important life lessons.

    October 20, 2012
    • Sarah #

      And thank YOU, Lisa, for being the kind of involved parent who is an amazing role model for her children.

      October 22, 2012
  7. sctownsend #

    And thank YOU, Lisa, for being the type of parent who is an amazing role model for her children.

    October 22, 2012
  8. Dylan Deal #

    Amen. Well put. To quote, I think, Oprah: We are all imperfect. But we are all worthy of love.

    October 26, 2012

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