Your playing small doesn't serve the world.

Time and time again in my teaching I have continually hit up against  a common theme when working with others (students, adults alike), with only a rare exception.

Inevitably, teaching becomes only 20-30% about the content (the concepts, definitions, vocabulary, themes, what not) and 70-80% convincing those around my that, indeed, they are capable of learning the content.

When I was teaching middle school math is when this first hit me.  I found that if I addressed student fears and concerns before beginning a lesson or an activity (or in the middle of for that matter) - suddenly the barriers to understanding were removed!  That pattern that we had been searching for emerged instantly... the solution to the problem revealed itself, at it has always been right there waiting for us to discover it.

This same realization hit me a few days ago while teaching the SAT Prep course I'm doing.  The best way I've been able to frame the kids' mindset it one of a lack of confidence.  And I kept trying to find the quote that's been swimming around in my head for a few weeks but I couldn't locate in any of my books - and the quote is referenced in the title of this piece:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (1992) by Marianne Williamson.

I'm thinking about printing this out and giving each student a copy this evening.  I wish students... or everyone... would have a little more faith in themselves.  A little more confidence.  A little more belief.  A little more trust.

Today's query?  What would you do if you weren't afraid?


  1. It sure helps if you build relationships of trust with your students...

    Thanks for sharing the link to my Creative Commons presentation, much appreciated. Doing so led me to discover yet another educator who's been reflecting publicly on what's most important in the classroom.

    Keep sharing the 'light'!

  2. Thank you so, so much for the comment! I truly was humbled and blown away by your presentation, the ebook that you helped work on, and your blog. I'm really looking forward to learning more from you and your writings/reflections. :)

    I'm trying to get better at reflecting publicly... but it's a process. :)


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