The teacher asks the class what is 2+2. I sit watching her with the answer 4 screaming in my head, yet I keep my hands down just in case I am wrong.
The student in front of me raises his hand and responds 4 with confidence. I spend the rest of the day upset with myself for not speaking up when I had the correct answer. This has been my life’s pattern: always hesitant to speak because I lack confidence in what I know.
When I signed up for the Write to Change the World seminar on October 27, I was not expecting to share with a group of successful women strangers what I consider my Kryptonite. I came in expecting to spend the day learning the magic formula for writing a newsworthy op-ed. While there is a suggested framework, the experience was significantly more multifaceted and rewarding than my expectations.
The seminar was helpful in understanding that I undermine my knowledge because I very rarely consider its value to others. But would I do the same if it was a life and death matter? What if I take away the answer to someone’s life and death question by not voicing what I know?
It is that thought motivating me to complete my inaugural op-ed piece about the importance of incorporating a common decency curriculum into early childhood education. The goal is to lessen the likelihood of those students becoming bullies in later years. If we teach children how to put the ideas of respect, fairness and concern for others into practice, we can decrease incidents of bully behavior as they mature.
The OpEd Project is encouraging voices like mine to participate in public forums to bring more visibility to the causes that matter to our community. I highly recommend getting involved.
M. Michelle Derosier is the Director of Programs with icouldbe.org, an online mentoring non-profit that connects at-risk students from low-income communities with mentors who positively impact their goals and plans for the future. With over 13 years of experience developing and delivering specialized trainings and workshops that educate K-12 students beyond the traditional school subjects, Michelle is currently working on launching the Social Etiquette Institute. Its mission is to prepare K-12 minority students in underserved communities to navigate the cross-cultural world of higher education and future work.