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From Broken-hearted to Conviction and Purpose
May 9, 2023
If caring is to be maintained, clearly, the one caring must be maintained. She must be strong, courageous, and capable of joy.
-Nel Noddings, Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

“A wise teacher once told me that when you find something that breaks your heart, you know you have found a path leading to your purpose,” writes Carol Garboden Murray in Illuminating Care. She recounts the heart break that came during a teacher meeting early in her career when the teachers were treated with anything but appreciation:

“Not only had the teachers been shamed, unappreciated, and unseen, but care itself had been diminished and dishonored. That meeting ignited a fire in my belly…I have made it my mission to care for early childhood teachers by creating environments that give them the time and inspiration they need and deserve to practice care with intentionality and intelligence. …Every time I hear someone talk about caring for the caregivers, it resonates with me, sets my compass, and puts me on my path. Although the broken-hearted spot is where we can find our advocacy to stand up for care—we realize that when we tap into that place, it really isn’t broken. That tenderness we feel is whole and it is the place where our conviction and purpose are born.”

She continues: “Aligning my daily work with my beliefs and my convictions helps me view myself as an everyday activist. This view of myself is often the difference between working with purpose and self-care or working towards burn-out. I believe that every teacher has the opportunity to do work that aligns their heart and mind.”

This #teacherappreciationweek gives us a chance to say what we believe and act on year-round: Teachers and caregivers, especially of young children, do some of the most important work there is. Exchange Press is grateful to each of you who impact the lives of children and families daily, and we remain committed to supporting your efforts. Thank you!


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · May 15, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Rae, thanks for your feedback! What I love about Carol's work is it gives voice and force to much of what lives in the backs of our minds or the depths of our hearts. Your work demonstrates you've always had that compass - now, thanks to Carol, we can name - and strengthen - that tender, powerful connection between heartbreak and the focus of our work.

Rae Pica · May 09, 2023
Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
Alexandria, United States

Thank you for this article, and many thanks to Carol for putting a new spin on heartbreak. My heart breaks every time I hear about little ones forced to sit for lengthy periods, to engage in passive vs. active learning, or to meet expectations for which they're not developmentally ready. Now, while it will still cause grief, it will also "reset my compass."

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