When I was reflecting on words I know are crucial to determining purpose, direction and achievement for students, I settled on these four. The fact they formed the word “fair” which in turn is part of the phrase that Australia is famous for, namely giving people a “fair go” made me want to share these four words and why I think they are important for students, teachers, parents, carers and anyone wanting to give the best fair go to someone, to anyone.
It is also obvious that the component words of this acronym are not new as ingredients to creating an opportunity for a child to live their best life, but I do like the fact I have bundled them into a four-letter “F” word that I like.
There is a reason fun is at the beginning and respect is at the end. It is also worth noting that the pillars of aspiration and inspiration are at the centre of the word.
The word FAIR itself in a world where many things are not fair, is an easily understood word by everyone of all ages. Being fair starts on that first day in daycare, kindergarten or with siblings in a family. Being fair in the workplace, across governments, and across cultures is something we aspire to.
When I was initially working on this, my intended audience, or rather the people I was thinking about were students. Students are my ultimate customer, however, teachers and parents have students as their “customers” as well.
A lesson delivered or consumed should be fun. You may have heard various quotes about choosing a job that you love and that you will never feel as if you work a day. The secret is not so much in loving your job, but in doing something that others love. If calculus, homework and Shakespeare was something that students thought was fun, then they would love your work and it is proven that the best work is created by those whose customers love their work.
So the Fun was then extended from the student to the teacher, to the parent and even to me who generally doesn’t teach in a classroom. I tend to work with educators, sharing ways they can use the technology we have invested in. When we are having fun, we are getting things done. There is an initiative called the NTLC which involves students in decision-making and leadership. There is a good article worth reading and the images I have seen of NTLC conferences involving students have not only yielded results, but look like a lot of fun evidenced by the smiles on their faces.
Why does a student in a small rural school in Vietnam or Indonesia which only has chalkboards, books and poor internet turn up for every lesson, listening and learning what is offered? Inspiration and Aspiration – generally in that order. Inspiration and Aspiration are everywhere here in Australia as well. I see and hear about it on a daily basis. For example, that small act of reading to your child at night, worrying more about the number of words heard by that child than your 10,000 step count… leads to an incredible headstart fact compared to a child who is not read to. About 280,000 words difference to be exact.
INSPIRATION – the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.Oxford University Press
Family is the first source of inspiration. Community, including teachers, is another source of inspiration. Through teaching, nurturing, caring and demonstrating inspiration, we create aspiration in our students. That aspiration may be something we hope for, but eventually, it should transform into the unique aspirations of the individual. In the workplace, we might call this mentoring. In our family relationships, it is just trying to be a good involved and fair family member.
Although as I mentioned earlier, my focus for these four words is on students or children of my extended family or friends. If you wish to delve deeper into aspiration, both its intrinsic and extrinsic manifestations, then I suggest you take a look at this article by Kendra Cherry with a podcast on the subject by Amy Morin. This delves more into “grown-up” aspirations, aspirations adjusted for the accompaniments of real life and how you can create aspirations even if you feel you are on the hamster wheel of life. That’s not my focus, but I do want to flag it because as adults we want to create aspiration in kids and that is hard to do if we have none ourselves.
All those discussions, storybook readings, backyard adventures or games with your children or students create the experiences and knowledge to dream and hope for something. The books you read to children or they read themselves transport them to worlds beyond their current location and introduces them to everything from unicorns to mermaids, swashbuckling pirates, firemen, pilots, doctors, truck drivers, treasure hunters, adventurers, gardeners or any of the characters they meet in real life or vicariously through reading. We hope those aspirations are not tarnished by any daily reading of online tabloids and social media as they transition from the fiction they read as young people to the stranger-than-fiction stories appearing on those platforms.
If that happens, that is where the last word will play an important role in shaping the use of the knowledge, skills and experiences we try to share and prepare our students or own children for.
Respect is earned although, in many cultures, including here in Australia, respect is sometimes automatically applied based on factors like age, education, power, gender and caste. Respect should not be assumed and should be appreciated and reciprocated when encountered. Whether it is the respect someone gives you by turning up to an optional meeting or students who show respect for the learning and lessons you deliver, it is not a one-way street. Respect is about being fair.
That is why the bookends of Fun and Respect provide the opportunity for Aspiration and Inspiration to thrive in your home, your classroom, your workplace or wherever you may be. Let the FAIR begin!