Avenida Books’s latest book tackles problems in education from the angles of faith, hope, belief, and redemption. In a time when teachers are under attack, we chose to keep faith in teachers by giving them a place to tell the world why all of us should continue to believe in their soulful, worthy work.
Keeping the Faith in Education is a collection of essays and poems written by teachers and students. It will inspire and restore anyone who works in education. Each page serves as a reminder of why teachers are still willing to bare their souls to help their students shine.
“I couldn’t put this book down. Its pages glow with spirit, energy, joy — and also pain, doubt and uncertainty. Throughout it all a deep river of compassion flows for teachers and their students. This is a book of grounded, centered, whole spirituality, not confined to any one religious tradition. Cherish the stories it introduces, and then share them with teachers you love!”-Mary HessAssociate Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary
From Ellie Roscher’s Introduction of Keeping the Faith in Education:
The day before the first day of school, the chairs are empty and the room’s silence is filled with the buzzing of potential and anticipation. Preparations are complete, and now you must let go. The bell rings. The room fills with young strangers who bring with them curiosity, hurt, openness, insecurity, preconceived ideas, creativity, energy, and stress. The work begins. Some will roll their eyes at you and drag their feet, project their fear toward the front of the class, project their fear onto you. Others will smile and nod a little too easily, afraid to challenge your authority or welcome cognitive dissonance.
There are countless small victories and defeats every single day. You care, you doubt, you hope, you give, you come back again the next morning and keep working.
Day after day, you recognize more faces. You start to really see them. They notice that you keep showing up. Somewhere amid all the paper shuffling and faculty meetings and parent phone calls and syllabus adjustments, something shifts. Inexplicably. A cognitive breakthrough here, an emotional connection there. The room becomes the home you build together. In building, day after day, passive subjects become active citizens. An insightful question. A crisis at home. A disappointing lesson. Laughter. We earn our freedom together, through daily investment. Respect, knowledge, a sense of identity and responsibility are earned gifts. It is the work we do together, the journey toward understanding, that makes us free.
And then, suddenly, the room is empty again. Exhausted, you smile. Something real happened, you think. The room has changed. Because of you, in spite of you, knowledge was sought and dignity abounds. You will never be able to explain to your friends or to politicians the extraordinary, uncharted transformation that took place while you were almost too busy to notice. But you do notice, and you know it to be true. You bottle up this feeling for a day next February when all will seem lost. You gently close the door and let your fingertips graze the wall on your way to a moment of well-deserved rest.
Faith in education is less about clarity, and more about the irrational belief in the unseeable magic of building a community where young strangers become fellow sages. I believe in the work of teaching. Freedom does not come on the battlefield. The battle for a good and just society is won or lost in the realm of education. Teachers believe that a free society needs good schools filled with good teachers who believe in students. A free society is one with a passion for education, one that is willing to invest in schools and recognize teachers as heroes. Freedom comes with the daily work over generations to teach those who come after us. Freedom is won in the human imagination and will.
It is this freedom that I speak of that keeps my faith in education. Sometimes this freedom barely tangible, practically in the realm of invisible. Other times the transformation is palpable and embodied. I have seen it on the faces and in the bodies of those I have watched learn. My faith in education comes from the desire deep inside the human spirit to seek knowledge and truth.
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