I started writing this “In ____...” column over ten years ago at the request of a local newspaper where I was living and working at the time. It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to pause and think ahead about my hopes for the coming year. It is truly one of the hardest articles to write each year because it’s not just a list of my hopes for the coming year, but it should be a record of what I commit to doing about those topics. It’s a process of going on record about my intended actions with the firm belief that each and every one of you have the opportunity to hold me accountable. So here we go…humanism, curiosity, and public education.
This year my “In 2018…” list starts with humanism. Humanism is the belief in the value of human beings, both individually and collectively. To put it bluntly, I would like to see more humanism in our world. Unfortunately examples of inhumanity can be seemingly overwhelming. And I don’t just mean the large scale atrocities we see in our news feeds. I mean the everyday examples of the small things we do that intentionally or unintentionally tear each other down. My commitment to action includes sifting down social media and ramping up generosity. I love social media and the constant stream of information. I recognize that I cannot control what gets put there, but I can control what I choose to follow. If it’s not uplifting or does not celebrate the positive aspects of our lives…delete. And right beside that is a commitment to be more generous: generosity with my time, with my resources, with compliments, and with encouragement. So in 2018, I commit to more humanistic actions and responses to the needs of those around me.
Second on my “In 2018…” list is curiosity. One of my favorite phrases is: respond to criticism with curiosity. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always remember that phrase immediately when faced with criticism, but once I shift to a mindset of curiosity, good things can follow. When I hear a grumble about this or that, I try to ask myself, “What might be causing them to think that?” Often times I quickly realize I didn’t explain something well or I missed a critical piece of the communication cycle. So in 2018, I commit to curiosity in the face of criticism.
And third on my “In 2018…” list will be advocacy for public education. Public education is a guaranteed right for all children in Iowa. There is certainly nothing wrong with choice for those that seek a different pathway to education. Having said that, I believe advocacy is necessary to protect the designation of sufficient resources needed to provide public education. My desire is to stop seeing Iowa slip further and further down the list for funding provided per student educated. I have always been an advocate for public education, so in 2018, my commitment is to help others with advocacy and to find ways to support their efforts to connect with state leaders on this topic.
So there you have it…humanism, curiosity, and public education. May these hopes translate into action throughout the coming year, and may you hold me accountable for those actions.
Best wishes to all our students throughout the winter, both in their academic endeavors and participation in activities. Solve problems, find answers, play with heart, score points, share your talents, and above all else find joy in growing each and every day. 2018 is full of promise. Together we are…Purple on Purpose.