When was the last time you were truly brave? Do you have people in your life that make being brave possible? When I was a kid, my bravest and best friend was named Clint and we did all kinds of things that required bravery, and perhaps a little recklessness.
Clint and I were together quite a lot since our grandparents were friends and our mothers were best friends. We were close to the same age with blonde hair, so people thought we were twins. We competed to see who could learn to dive to the bottom of the swimming pool first, explored every street in our neighborhood, and learned to play chess so we could see who would win more often. Clint won more often than me.
I had a monkey swing in my backyard. You know, a round seat with a hole in the middle for a rope that was suspended from a high branch in a big tree. It was a great way to spend time and was more fun if someone gave you a big push. Clint and I discovered that if we put the swing in the tree, climbed into the tree, and then jumped while sitting on the swing, we could swing really high.
After a few turns each, my mom caught us and told us to stop before someone got hurt. As any brave kid would do, we waited until my mom was gone and took a few more turns. On my turn, the rope broke, thankfully just knocking the wind out of me as I hit the ground flat on my back. Even though I could barely speak, I made sure that my mom didn’t know what we were doing. Yes, she was right, but the chance to be brave was worth it.
You may not have a friend to jump out of trees with, but I bet you have a work partner who would be willing to jump into some exciting adventures with you. So here’s a little advice from my young self to you.
Find a Partner
Just like Clint and I had each other’s backs, look around to find someone who can listen to your ideas and maybe do something a little daring with you. I’m not endorsing the idea of breaking the rules, but let’s just say my mom wasn’t in on all of our plans unless something went horribly wrong. Want to do a lab that requires equipment that isn’t available? Spend time with a co-worker looking at videos on the Internet to find out what can be built on the cheap. Want to know more about any topic in the world? Join an online course with a buddy or subscribe to a blog. Not only is it more fun to learn with a friend, it dramatically increases the odds that you’ll follow through.
Live with No Regrets
Clint and I spent a good number of hours sitting in front of the television, and then we wasted more minutes complaining about having to entertain his little sister. But we also spent a healthy amount of time and imagination finding interesting activities that make such great memories now. Every educator is stuck for hours in front of a computer screen and, let’s face it, we spend more time than we should complaining about some facet of our job. But I challenge you to do a little brave dreaming for ideas to integrate into the in-between times. This leads me to my next point.
Not Everything Will Be a Success
Not all of our ideas were successful. Some of our less fruitful ventures included having sword fights with steak knives (thankfully no one needed stitches), planning an attack on the mean kids at the other end of our street (we spent lots of time planning and somehow never found time to implement our plan), and sorting hundreds of pennies into stacks by year (and then dumping them all back into the jar). And although they are not activities I would suggest to kids today, I know both Clint and I learned a lot through the process. It’s okay to try a lab that bombs. Reflect on the results with your students and then look for something better. What a great lesson to demonstrate to your class how to learn from mistakes.
So grab a partner, take a risk, and be brave. Life is too short to be filled with boring moments and missed opportunities. Unlike my young self, as adults, we have enough good judgment to keep things from going horribly wrong. And if something turns out less than wonderful, not only will it make a great story, but you’ll also have someone with which to share the blame.