Friday, July 24, 2015

Finding 'Value' in Hidden Places

Image Source: User PublicDomainArchive,

“The single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.” — Peter Thiel, Zero to One

Let’s change a few words shall we…

 “A powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful educators find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about education from first principles instead of formulas.” 

Is this true?

Image Source: User Jarmoluk,

As teachers, we don’t have to look far to find value in unexpected places. Glance at the faces before us. How can we find value, worth, goodness, importance, and deservedness in each and every one of your students?

This summer, I have read countless stories about the need for socially just schools, classrooms, and teachers. Progressive educators and activists are calling for dialogue (and action) on race, inequality, and de facto segregation in our schools. To bring about the systemic change many of us want to see, teachers need to look at their own classrooms and schools.

We, teachers, must take the step of valuing ALL students. Not just the bright students, not just the compliant students, not just the honor roll students, not just the athletic students, not just the white students, not just the gifted students, not just the students who raise their hands.

Not just the students we display power over.

Instead, we can find a fundamental wisdom, goodness, and value from the bully, from the trouble-maker, from the class clown, from the angry, from the suspended, from the marginalized, from the oppressed, from the depressed, from students of color, from those who need a voice, from those who need another chance, from those who are ignored.

Each student can teach us something once we strip away our perceptions and stereotypes to listen, to become equals. I really believe that.

I write this as a reminder to myself. I NEED to be better at recognizing the basic worth and value of ALL students in ALL my words and actions.

It’s a sad thing to admit we might call this value unexpected.


Thank you Ruben Brosbe for your recent piece. It provided an impetus for this post. White Educators: Do You Recognize State Trooper Encinia?


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