Breathing in a “Soul”

A Teacher Can Change a Student; A School a Community | Carmen Pellicer Iborra | TEDxBerkleeValencia

The Difference Between A Teacher And An Educator | Timmy Sullivan | TEDxYouth@BHS

8 Laws of Change | Stephan A Schwartz | TEDxVail

As educators, we should give a “soul,” as Carmen Pellicer Iborra would call it, to our vision and teachings and breathe that “soul” into our students, classrooms, and school communities. Personalizing our relationships with students, colleagues, parents, and community partners, collectively we can nurture social transformation that extends beyond the self.

Maxine Greene challenges, “How can we create environments in our classrooms that are provocative and sustaining? Environments where we can talk about the community in the making.”

I think that through the social transformative vision in our curricula, we can perhaps rise to Greene’s challenge and achieve the humanization that Paulo Freire theorized about. “Freire…believed that the system of education ought to be in accordance with human rights and dignity. His pedagogy is a pedagogy of peace, hope, love and freedom.” (Petrović, Cvetković, Jovanović)

Greene calls “on us in education to take ourselves and our condition more seriously, to take ourselves as educators more seriously…how could we help children develop the sense of trust in their own society, in their own country and at the same time become capable of outrage when something offends our basic values.” I believe that if my curricula, passion, and vision are rooted, my educator reality could exist beyond the seriousness Greene demands. Through the connections and extended application of students’ learnings and initiatives that I foster, I can witness the transformation in their thinking, perceptions, perspectives, and voice, where their understanding, research, and actions address the “outrage” that they experience and learn of.

I think many educators would agree with Arendt “the essence of education is natality.” Using our lived experiences as educators as points of reference, I think many of us will find “natality.” For example, many students who are attending our schools now, had parents who also attended the same school and had the same educators; with teachers who teach the same subject or content to multiple classes or grade levels, they witness the natality that is regenerated with each lesson, class, or from year to year. In its 11th cohort of the Urban Learner program, our professors have and are currently living, experiencing, and being actors in Arendt’s natality and in that process being catalysts to the possible social transformation they spark in all of us. In education and as educators, “all newcomers bring with them the possibility that the world might be reinvigorated” (Levinson) with “social hope” (White) as a source of natality.

My curricula and school/community initiatives reflect my “desire to contribute to the re-creation of the world…with each generation and with every child in each generation.” (Levinson)

In my efforts to create opportunities for social transformation, I “motivate our students (and community members) to imagine new possibilities for the future” (Levinson) where “the conception of natality as reaction, response, reconfiguration” (Levinson) have the potential to give life to “something new, that is, of acting” and of “setting-right.” (Arendt)

As educators, what we do with our students and schools to inspire and realize social transformation require on-going renewal of our relentless efforts from student to student, class to class, year to year.


Students transforming and advancing self and community together.



Towards Pedagogy of Thought & Imagination, Video recording by Teachers College, Columbia University, May 16, 2014.

Petrović,Cvetković, Jovanović, Humanization of School According to the Idea of Paulo Freire

Levinson, N., Teaching in the Midst of Belatedness: The Paradox of Natality in Hannah Arendt’s Educational Thought. Educational Theory, Fall 1997, vol. 47. No. 4. University of Illinois.