As I write this column, it would be foolish to anticipate which way the wind will blow for further education after the general election. Anything might happen. And it’s possible that changes could happen fast – might already be happening, by the time you get around to reading this (always assuming you aren’t prioritising the mince pies).
So this Christmas Carol puts the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future to one side and considers how we can conduct ourselves for an uncertain future. It seems to me that although policies, structures and ideologies can’t be anticipated, in the midst of everything else people continue to be people. So maybe that’s where we could focus our collective energies, rather than second-guessing the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
I did a TEDx talk recently, an extraordinary experience which gave me the opportunity to research the topic of joy. When I ask educators what brings them joy, no-one ever says ‘success rates’ or ‘my pay packet’. That’s not where joy lies. Instead, I repeatedly hear that joy is found in humanity, in the interactions between individuals, in watching students and colleagues blossom and grow. Joy is found in the spaces between people and in uncertain times it’s something we can continue to rely on.
We have to look for it though. At the end of the toughest term, we have to dig deep into our vocation to find the energy to get to Christmas, so it takes extra effort to nurture the joy in our connections with others. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the coaching metaphor that some people are radiators and others drains (you get it, I’m sure)? On cold, grey winter mornings I know which I’d rather snuggle up next to.
The writer Rebecca Solnit described joy as “a fine act of insurrection”. As ideologies rage, friends fall out and political discourse becomes ever more toxic, perhaps the most revolutionary thing we can do is to focus on joy. I wish every joy of the season to you, and to yours.
Lou Mycroft is a writer, teacher, independent thinker and thought-provoker. She is currently working on two Education and Training Foundation projects: the PDNorth Professional Exchange and #APConnect, a programme for Advanced Practitioners. Join the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #pedagogue
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