Monday, January 20, 2014

How MLK’s Courage Can Influence Us Today

Today is the day we celebrate the legacy of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Dr. King had a dream of a world in which freedom and equality would prevail in our land. Thanks to his words and actions, we as a nation were able to move closer to the ideals of fairness and justice for all people.

Dr. King’s courage enabled him to exert a lasting influence on our country’s political culture. He faced incarceration, public condemnation, and the threat of violence for a cause that ultimately cost him his life. However, he never faltered in his beliefs. He never failed to speak or to act when he knew, in so doing, that he was supporting the advancement of civil rights.

In keeping with the sentiments of this special day, I would like to discuss how we can strive to act courageously in our own daily lives. Marcus and I have identified Appropriate Courage as a key cognitive asset that is necessary for enriching our own lives and the lives of others.

Teachers with Appropriate Courage can take a calculated risk in the hopes of achieving a large reward of greater personal satisfaction and increased student learning. Students with Appropriate Courage continue to strive to master a subject even if they have failed in the past.

Appropriate Courage involves accurately assessing a situation and the inherent risks, clearing identifying mission or goals, deciding what action to take, locating the required resources, and developing a timeline to propel your action forward. Going through this process enables you to make smart decisions and to follow through even when you are apprehensive or afraid to do so.

We believe school provides the opportunity for young people today to begin the habitual practice of courageously living a life of learning. Here are some possible examples of Appropriate Courage for teachers, students, and others:
  1. Admitting when you make a mistake
  2. Sitting in the front row of a class or presentation
  3. Speaking up in a meeting when you feel strongly about something
  4. Trying a new strategy in the classroom or workplace
  5. Saying no when appropriate
  6. Telling a friend when you feel he or she is headed down the wrong path
Without courage, a hero might never take the first step of his or her journey. We are grateful for the journey that Dr. King took and how his courage allowed him to articulate a dream that has resulted in a more equitable future for millions.

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