By Dr. Sheila Wright, Dean of Cambridge College’s School of Education
On the Red Line, a Boston Public Schools (BPS) recruitment poster included the phrase “dare to teach,” which derives from Paulo Freire’s book Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to those who Dare to Teach. In his letters, Freire highlights the value of people and culture, the necessity of teaching with integrity and compassion regardless of the person and community served, the relevance of critical thinking to reflective practice, and the intricate relationship between teaching and learning.
“Dare to teach” reflects the inherent nature and value of teaching in urban settings, where the preponderance of life and societal issues can (and do) affect students and their families in ways that teachers can neither avoid nor deny. Consider this: BPS is one of the most diverse districts in the nation where over 40% of its student population speak a language other than English. The complexity, magnitude, frequency, and intensity of societal issues within the district can hinder the individual and collective advancement of people marginalized and disenfranchised by circumstances largely beyond their control. Cambridge, Lawrence, Springfield, and other communities share similar urban challenges. “Dare to teach” charges teachers to support the success of all, regardless of community served.
After more than 30 years of teaching throughout the pipeline, it is abundantly clear to me as a dean at Cambridge College that if you prepare someone to teach in an urban setting, you prepare them to teach anywhere. More importantly, you prepare them to be flexible and to think about this work differently – as cultural workers.
If we remove the blind-spots, suspend reality, and see the possibilities inherent in the knowledge and ability of others, we reveal their hidden talents. To do this requires that we first hear and understand their stories, recognize the situational factors affecting teaching and learning, and “dare to teach.” If we persist despite the odds, ignore the naysayers, and help learners get into the deep of things, then we all achieve success. That is the pull towards excellence.
As I rode the Red Line on my way to yet another day of helping those who help others dare to teach, I was reminded of the dream of M.L. King and the words of T.E. Lawrence:
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake in the day to find it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, who may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.
Nestled between MIT and Harvard, find your dream at Cambridge College. Dare to teach, dare to lead. Urban education is essential to our continued success as a nation; it is required to unlock our future. As we champion science, math, special education, ESL and more, actualize your dream in the School of Education at Cambridge College, so that others can also teach and learn in a world of greater acceptance and reverence for all.