True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are.
It requires us to be who we are.
– Brené Brown (Atlas of the Heart, Chapter 9)
The Power of Stories
Brené Brown’s words landed powerfully in my being. I had been listening to Brené Brown narrate her book Atlas of the Heart in my car on my commutes to and from work. I pulled over to listen to her words again. And then I wrote them down.
Brene’s words cascaded into my memory of a conversation I’d had with Suzanne Axelsson, an early learning educator, professor, and international speaker. Suzanne had described the experience of her three brilliant and gifted children all on the autism spectrum. She had drawn a picture of a square and added small circles around the outside perimeter of that square to represent children with exceptionalities. “Educational systems and programs are always trying to fit children into a box of what it means to be a successful student.” She drew arrows from the small circles outside the square into its interior. “Why are we always trying to stuff children into a box designed for only some children? Why can’t we just make the box bigger?”
As educators and parents, we have huge challenges, opportunities and responsibility to make the box bigger. How can we help all children see the best in themselves? How can we give them places and spaces to share their unique abilities, perspectives, and passions meaningfully with others?
In this final segment of “In Conversation with Susan Josephs” Susan shares the power of stories in helping children unlock hidden potentials and in finding the courage to share their unique gifts with others. She shares that these teaching stories, when combined with the humility of the storyteller to become a learner too, offers children the chance to be “who they are”.