Master Craftsman

JJ Wills
Posted on our original Blog site by JJ Wills

Welcome to our guest blogger from Baldwin County Schools, JJ Wills. JJ participated in our Connected Educator Month book study in October. We are thrilled to hear her perspective about how educators are master craftsmen – crafting learning experiences and impacting learners in deep and meaningful ways.

I started the book study, “Wounded by Schools”, by Kirsten Olsen. This first discussion asked that we evaluate Cornel West’s statement, “Education is soul crafting”. This statement conjured images of master mechanics and master carpenters both meticulous, knowledgeable, and in high demand. Those images and 14 years of varied teaching experiences resulted in the following response to, “Education is soul crafting.”

“Your feeling about this statement would be directly affected by your definition of soul. Soul for me is not totally about the presences of God, but the essences of a person; good, bad, kind, evil, lazy, motivated etc; the essences of a person is that, that is revealed by their actions. With this being my definition of soul I feel it has always been the responsibility of Teachers/Mentors/Schools, anyone who deals with children to ‘craft’ their souls by encouraging them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

We ‘craft’ their souls by:

  • modeling/teaching appropriate behaviors,
  • extinguishing self destructive behaviors,
  • encouraging exploration and natural inquisitive nature,
  • allowing them the freedom to think and to fail,
  • doing right for the sake of right,
  • creating high expectations and holding them to that standard,
  • reinforcing positive productive traits,
  • supporting their learning style.

So, yes we are “soul crafters”

As far as being charged as a transformative enterprise, isn’t it those transformations from average unmotivated student to inquisitive motivated learner that we long for in our classrooms. We have the position to transform student’s daily, not just their academic performance, but also their feelings about themselves, others, and the world.

You may say this is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to educate. Yes, that responsibility is ours too, but until our students understand themselves, understand the purpose for an education, believe that questioning is good, confusion is acceptable, we are only going to continue the old school culture. In conclusion, maybe soul crafting is our job and we haven’t becomemaster craftsmen.

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