Es viernes. And one week of BTA (Basic Training Academy 2013) for City Year Miami has been completed. It has been a powerful, motivating, engaging, inspiring, and difficult first week. We have been exposed to topics ranging from Idealism, Inclusivity, Growth Mindset, LGBTQ Diversity, ETO (Education Transformation Office), and Miami Transit (#gotransit). These are only a few topics among the vast range of discussions and activities we have been engaging with as a City Year community.
If I had to choose a topic that has been applicable in many situations this week, it would have to be the discussion on fixed and growth mindsets (See image borrowed from http://qedfoundation.org). To offer a short example… “I just don’t have math in my genes.” This is a common phrase you will here from individuals of many ages. Why don’t we ever hear people say, “I am just illiterate”? Math seems to be a subject of which we can excuse our self from if we are not immediately successful. (While I would like to include an argument here on science, objectivity, and falsifiability, I will leave that for your own speculation.) But, this example stems from the thought process of a fixed mindset. We all have this in some areas of our life: I can’t run, cooking is not for me, I am not creative enough. A perspective of a growth mindset would allow individuals to notice and engage with obstacles or challenges with EFFORT. A fixed mindset perspective usually has difficulty in valuing this form of effort. Sometimes effort is seen as negative or as not worthwhile. But, we should be rewarded for our successes and efforts. Each of us range on a spectrum between these two mindsets, especially with different domains of thought. But we must seek to understand the benefits a growth mindset can offer us in completing tasks and renewing our perspective of our daily lives.
Another topic that has been constantly on my mind has been the LGBTQ Diversity workshop. As an individual who identifies with and places himself within this community, I entered the conversation with an open, but critical, mind. It was emotional and eye opening for many. I acknowledge the difficulty of presenting and/or facilitating a conversation like this. Coming from a very liberal and accepting college campus, I sometimes forget that in order to present this topic to a diverse audience we must be careful not to push people too far from their comfort zones (into panic mode). I struggle with this issue with my own friends and family from Louisiana. However, this conversation at BTA was engaging and thoughtful, especially for those who haven’t had the opportunity to think broadly about the lives of individuals within the LGBTQ community. However, again as an individual who identifies with and places himself within this community, it was difficult to get through. It was difficult to hear stories of how LGBTQ individuals struggle, knowing that I went through those struggles. It was difficult (and maybe rewarding) to hear the voices of other’s saying they never thought about heterosexual privilege. And, in an effort for conciseness, there are many other thoughts and speculations I had from this short session. As someone who has been through a very large range of trainings, I know that when 1 to 2 hour talks leave you with this many thoughts (as in both the LGBTQ and mindset discussion), you know there was something important, relevant, and impactful about the speaker'(s) and other conversation participants’ words. I am grateful for that opportunity.
So, as I begin my journey as a City Year Corps Member with my Journey and School teams, I look forward to more engaging and thoughtful conversations that bring us as a community together to better serve our amazing students this year.
Gracias a todos.