Just a little while ago, I heard one of those quotes that was great at the time–and continues increasing in value as it festers, applying with deeper, far-reaching implications than initially perceived. This was the classic “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

Veteran educators–especially the great ones–have a way of speaking in timeless soundbites, it seems. It must come naturally–subconsciously even–as a result of experiences lived. Nearly two weeks later, I’m still reflecting on her quote.

Wow. This quote hit home with me–so much— that I blogged about it here:

As a veteran educator, I wanted the very best for my students. Yet, now as a parent, I want the very BEST for my child. It’s a different kind of best–A best like no other.

I thought I knew BEST–But really? I had no idea. So… After much processing and reflecting, to what other areas does that quote apply? What other concepts involved in education do I strive to know professionally–without having lived them? How about:

  • Serving students with different needs than mine
  • Serving families/communities with different needs than mine
  • Serving ______________ with different ______________ than mine
  • Walking in the shoes of a principal for one week–for one DAY
  • Walking in the shoes of a custodian, secretary, cafeteria staff, _____________
  • Knowing the inner-workings of central office
  • Parenting more than one child at a time
  • Persevering as a single parent
  • Living with a confidential medical condition
  • ___________________________________________________________________

I love including the fill-in-the-blank option, especially here–because really–there are SO MANY possibilities to consider. What would YOU add? There are so many learning and teaching needs and concerns unbeknownst to me–and all of us–that is, unless you yourself have lived in the shoes of every single learner.

I often see educators using the word empathy with ease, nearly synonymous with sympathy. To me–Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some consider the two antonyms (opposites). You may not find this definition or distinction online, but I have heard the two contrasted as:

“Sympathy is having an understanding of someone else’s situation, while empathy is having an understanding of someone else’s situation–AND specifically acting upon it.”

I wonder: As learners connected like spider web communities:

  • What could we be doing to practice, extend, and promote empathetical learning opportunities?
  • What and how could we be learning from each other, with empathy?
  • Why have we not urgently intensified empathy awareness?
  • What could we each do, as individuals, to act upon our wanting to know about, support, and learn from fellow learners in this thing called life?