As I often tell teachers, some of our most important leaders, we can’t always ask our students to take off armor at home or even on the way to school. Because their emotional and physical safety may require self-protection. But what we can do, and what we are ethically called to do, is create a space in our schools and classrooms where all students can walk in and for that day or hour take off the crushing weight of their armor, hang it on a rack and open their hearts to truly being seen. We must be guardians of a space that allows students to breathe and be curious and explore the world and be who they are without suffocation. They deserve one place where they can rumble with vulnerability and their hearts can exhale. And what I know from the research is that we should never underestimate the benefit to a child of having a place to belong even one where they can take off that armor. It can and often does change the trajectory of their life. If the culture of our school, organization, place of worship or even family requires armor because of racism, sexism or any manifestation of fear based leadership we can’t expect whole-hearted engagement.
- Brenè Brown Dare to Lead