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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Is Advocacy Natural?

Little children rarely don't advocate for themselves. When they want something, they let you know. So I would say that advocating for what we need and want is a natural instinct. Yet, as we get older, do we lose that instinct?

An educator friend who works in a system other than mine confided in me that at a recent meeting her colleagues quietly disagreed with a directive, but none of them would advocate for their opinion. The educators who stayed silent had close to many, many years of teaching experience and are known to be both dedicated and successful teachers. The directives were sent by educators with much less time teaching young children. So weren't the educated, experienced educators willing to speak up in the face of directives they found ill-directed? Did they lose their instinct, will or courage to advocate? Did they care? Had they developed their advocacy over time?

I think that many educators may fear advocacy. Others don't know how to advocate, and still more may not recognize the value of speaking up for small matters and how those small matters affect children's overall educational experience. In this situation it was a couple of directives, but there will be a trickle down effect, and these relatively small in scope directives will impact the entire teaching/learning program in ways that could be problematic or more likely stand in the way of good progress and development.

In the days ahead I'll be thinking more about advocacy including how and when people advocate and why that matters. I'll also look to good process and ways to encourage advocacy when it comes to issues, ideas and practice that greatly affect the work we do to uplift student success and positive experiences in school.