In my younger years, I prided myself on championing rebellion. If there was a rule, I’d find a way to skate right up to the line and put my tiny painted toes snug against it. Sometimes, I’d boldly cross over it with pride, especially if boundaries of human dignity laid on the other side. Nevertheless, as I ascended deeper into my consciousness, I discerned the difference between being a rebel for the sake of rebellion versus being a rebel with a cause.
What Language Are You Speaking In?
When I walked into my first teacher faculty meeting as a newly hired special education teacher, I distinctly remember feeling an odd disconnect. As I sat amongst the stench of moldy books in our library, I visually scanned the periodicals that perched upon bookshelves while trying to appear engaged. The familiar feel of an archives of books dissipated as enthusiastic voices engaged in conversations that seemed to fade away into shadows shading the vinyl flooring under my feet.
Once inside my print-enhanced, picture-adorned special education self-contained classroom, I made my own rules while advocating for the laws that protected my students’ rights. And, I always made sure they felt a part of the school. Fearlessly, I insisted my students were members of the student body by showing up to special assemblies and continually diverting the focus to my students’ progress in test-scored centered meetings.
Although buzz phrases, such as data-driven instruction, high-stakes testing, and rigorous content, dripped slowly into common educational vernacular, I felt lost in the field. It was as if someone had pressed play with continuous looping on a Rosetta Stone for Russian CD during my tenure.
Unfortunately, the “I don’t belong here” feeling followed me throughout my 22 years in public education, which always created unease. Occasionally, I mulled around in the murkiness of the technical jargon of the moment just to feel a part of the team.
The Fear Mongers Invade
Accordingly, accountability upstaged authentic learning while leaving trust crumpled on the floor just in time for “Y2K”. After the popularity of The Achievement Gap report in the 1980s, school systems doused its employees in the professional development in reaction to the latest doomsday reports. Ironically, the foundations of this research were rooted in arbitrary constructs, such as “behind grade-level” without a shred of genuineness.
Subsequently, in the years following, recess at schools became obsolete despite the brain-based research to support it. In response, rote memorization and test-taking strategies eclipsed the authenticity and inquiry in school buildings. But, this rebel with a cause snuck in playtime, as needed.
Ostensibly in schools, fear blanketed the fire of real-world learning as critical thinking skills in classrooms dissipated. With its embers sparking, learning consisted of what students lacked rather than what students embodied deep within.
As time marched on, the excess of busy-work, overscheduled lives, and dismissiveness of stress created trauma-ladened students. They internalized their issues while losing their love for learning. To read more about the effects of pathological busyness, which also affects children: https://tracinicolesmith.com/the-unbusying-of-pathological-busyness/.
Rejecting the American Dream
Meanwhile, the school years bookended my summers of learning educational pedagogy. The thirst for knowledge about special education ignited my passion deep inside. Consequently, my personal life aspect of my being also revolted. Watching friends obsess over weddings, future housing, and lots of kids lacked resonance for me. Instead, what reverberated inside of me as I witnessed a culture of young adults grasping for the brass ring was the misery expressed by so many as they chased their dreams.
Although my coworkers and friends willingly traversed down the golden-bricked road of wedded bliss, 2.5 kids, and a white picketed fence, most were unhappy. Intuitively, I knew that a cancerous deception of influences had crept in their bodies and taken over.
Indeed, being married with kids did not equate happiness as evidenced by the masses of miserable people. (It is worth noting that I also have several happily married friends who figured out the balance of achieving their own strong identities while enhancing their lives with a partner and children.)
When I Want to Learn, I Go Within
Likewise, the reinforcement of reliance on the external strengthened my knowing. Alas, I watched as others drained their power to create self-reliant joy. To assist, I became a rebel with a cause as I empowered others to learn more about what feeds their soul apart from any external factors.
In addition, I shared my own trajectory of self-discovery through purging all that didn’t serve me and creation of what ignited my soul fire. In my life, what truly held meaning and joy for me was enlightening and educating others. I revealed them how I fell in love with myself, all of me. And how this state of being was possible for them. When you live your life in honor of this self-love, existential fulfillment arises that exists beyond anyone or anything.
Without hesitation, early in my life, I rejected both personal and professional constructs of “the right way to do things” as I discovered that what develops outside of me can never sustain me. I sustain and fuel my fire through going within. When I need to connect with my higher self, I practice mindfulness while meditating. To learn more about meditation: https://tracinicolesmith.com/practicing-mindfulness-through-meditation/
Refusing is a form of rebelling
Specifically, in the education world, I disregarded the overemphasis of data as the indicator of teacher/curriculum/student effectiveness. Rather, I embraced the importance of transformational learning and student-centered education. To learn more about the progressive education I espouse, please visit: https://www.humanrestorationproject.org.
Additionally, in my personal life, I never drank the Kool-Aid about needing people (a spouse or kids) or things (big house or nice car) to define my identity. Moreover, I found difficulty relating to people who felt “left behind” as their friends began to get married and have kids. The fear of not having what was deemed “the happy life” caused many people to force their will into the situation. Instead of giving my power away through wishing things were different, I focused on my path.
Early on, I knew the formula to create my best life resided in my power of creation and my Faith in the Divine Order of the Universe. Everything I am meant to receive is already chosen for me if I surrender. Almost 26 years ago, I relinquished my need to control things and allowed the flow of life to guide my way. I expressed my desires and use my power of manifestation to create the life that is possible for me in this lifetime.
The Sweet Sound of Surrender
Surrendering to God/Divine/Universe’s plan liberates you from wondering when something will happen or from trying to force it to happen. If you feel unsatisfied in your current life, there is something to investigate inside of you.
Thus, I have spent the 25 years being a rebel with a cause, actually two causes: special education and spirituality. The freedom and purpose I experience on a daily basis brings me joy and peace in a way that is even hard to express in words.
Although the American public educational climate has deteriorated, I still have hope. I feel the change coming deep within the cells in my body. As follows, I will continue to be an advocate and voice for children with disabilities. Furthermore, I have not given up on partnership or love.
This hope of the future fuels my causational rebellion of “happiness” without fear or control. This bliss of allowing is possible for you if release all that does not serve your highest good.
Be the rebel with a cause by making the cause YOU.