Face reality and dare to disrupt

Lisa Ashes

Lisa Jane Ashes is a self-employed teacher and author of Manglish: Bringing Maths and English Together Across the Curriculum. She is now a trustee of the charity Reach Out 2 Schools (www.reachout2schools.com), founded by Isabella Wallace, who are continuing to fund education-centric work in countries such as Nepal, India and South Africa. The organisation is also working on education projects within the UK, with Lisa using her knowledge of creativity within the curriculum to build better education for the most in need.

Follow @lisajaneashes

Website: thelearninggeek.com/ Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Pexels. Image credit: Pexels.

Sitting in the department meeting, lists of issues are being fired at you from the usual agenda. Your colleagues’ eyes are rolling, arms crossed and lips pursed in distaste at the never-ending problems. You are sweating! Your cheeks burn and your hands tingle as you choke back the solution you think just-might-work. You can barely hear the rest of the points as you run over and over in your mind, how you might disrupt this meeting with the solution that is buzzing to be heard. If you could just bring yourself to lay the creative idea on the table… or is it a stupid idea? No matter, the meeting is over. It’s just another idea that you didn’t dare share.

Unshared ideas are a waste of your energy. The creative thoughts wither away into seething frustration. Before you know it, you have joined the cynical seats in the staffroom as creative energy is transformed into complaint. “The new marking policy is rubbish!” You mime along with the other complainers. There’s a solution, but you didn’t dare to disrupt, and so you settle into the delusion that there is nothing you can do. The idea is gone. Complaints give us a momentary sense of relief as we round up our problems in collective hatred for the system. We own our problems through frustration and complaint, but avoid ownership over being the reason they are perpetuated rather than solved.

What is it that keeps you paralysed, stopping the idea ever seeing the light of your colleagues? Is it fear? Fear, that blocker of creativity, sneaks into situations and tells you that you are not the right person to be putting new ideas forward. Fear is responsible for holding so many ideas back and turning creatives into complainers through frustration. In the words of Seamus Heaney: “Strange. It is a huge nothing that we fear.” We cannot predict the future. Yet, we fear the imagined discomfort that laying our ideas out could potentially cause. Imagination cannot harm you; the frustration of an idea not shared can! Recognise that your fear is imagination trying to save you from a situation that may never happen. Allow yourself to disrupt the problems with your ideas and face reality, not fear of what may be.

You are not a disruptor? Disruptors are the avatars on social media that shout us down with a plethora of superior knowledge that we could never hope to have. They are the untouchable ancient staff members who wear denim without a tie and refuse new policies on the basis that they have “done this all before”. You are not loud. You feel the lack of weight that your inferior knowledge brings and yet… you’re sure this idea could work! Will standing up cause you to be shouted down by the ‘real’ disruptors out there? The only way to avoid criticism is to do absolutely nothing. What will that achieve?

The stereotypical disruptor may not be you, but I have good news! There is no disruptor-shaped box. For every aggressive disruptor shouting about what we “must do,” there is a disruptor with subtle passion that dares to say, “I wonder if…” For every disruptor that brazenly stands apart, refusing to cooperate, there is a quiet disruptor making small, significant changes from within. For every grating know-it-all, there is a graceful instigator of change, disrupting without noise or discomfort to others. Whether NQT or headteacher, no one idea is worth hearing more than another. All ideas have the potential to disrupt the journey, taking us towards a lesser resistant route - if you dare to share.

Every one of us has the power to change the world. Don’t fear getting it wrong; be hopeful that your idea might just put it right. Don’t fear being laughed at - life is too short to take seriously anyway. Do not fear being a disruptor; our world needs people like you to see solutions and dare speak them out loud. Disrupt with passion over aggression. Disrupt with quiet grace, working within to lead the way forward. Shine a light on your fears and see them for what they really are: untrue, disabling, a feeling that you can overcome. With action, you will see that there is nothing to fear and you will avoid the real discomfort of frustration and complaint. Not next year, when you have finally finished your masters. Not next month, when you hope the marking pile may be smaller. Dare to bring your solution to the table whenever the time is right. If you are facing a problem and you hold the tiniest germ of a potential solution – the time is right now!

The next department meeting is scheduled. You know the problems that colleagues face. You have been working quietly, gathering data and testing your solution. You are prepared to share. They might laugh at you. They might shout you down. You know that what might happen is not as important as what is happening in this moment. In this moment, you have dared bare your brain – your creative idea is loose! You have disrupted the problem with your potential solution and you have no idea what will happen next… isn’t that a relief?

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