Joy is very infectious; therefore always be full of joy!
- Mother Teresa
There are a lot of scary things going on today in our world. One thing after another can shake us to our core and make us fear for our children growing up in today’s conditions. Simply watching the news can evoke such sad feelings, making us question our contributions to the world and how they’re helping to solve all of these problems that exist. Seeking clarity and joy in a world that seems so full of pain, I began reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
When asked about being a “worldsick” human attempting to find joy while attempting to help the world heal, Archbishop Tutu simply said, “It does no good to sacrifice joy because there is suffering.” Instead, he advises people to be filled with joy so others may recognize that being generous is not a burden, and then join us in our joy. “Giving the world your love, yourselves, your healing, your joy–this is a great gift!” Joy is how we can help heal the world.
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu go on to share that they believe education is the way to impact the world. Our work of helping schoolchildren become more compassionate and others-focused will help create generous, joyful adults to help solve the problems of our world.. What a gift that we are presented with countless opportunities to bring joy and make an impact on the teachers and students in our Catholic schools!
We know too well the reality, though, that schools are not without their own challenges. Children can be difficult, because well, they’re children. It is their job to ask questions, discover boundaries by pushing them, and find themselves as they interact with other humans all day. They are learning. Even more so, it is so very easy to get lost in the challenge of best serving all the beautifully different needs of the children entrusted to our care. While these needs are designed by God’s very intentional diversity, it is hard work. While I’m a huge cheerleader for inclusion, I’ll be the first to say it is hard.
After reading The Book of Joy, I’ve discovered that the challenge of inclusion can also be the very source of the joy! With almost every story that is shared of a child’s needs being met or fully included in a classroom, there are those who are more touched by the resulting joy (even beyond the included child themselves). The peers, families, teachers, administrators… every person that is impacted by a decision to have an inclusive classroom is affected by the challenge and the joy.
Inclusive teaching is hard. Yet time and time again, we can do hard things and with great joy. In fact, according to The Book of Joy, when we generously take in the suffering of our students and our colleagues, we can give back joy. Not only do we grow more joyful ourselves in this generosity, but others will join us in service.
We hope that you will consider joining the Program for Inclusive Education in our next cohort of inclusive educators and welcome, serve, and celebrate all of the children in our Catholic schools. This Thanksgiving we are grateful for all those committed to inclusion in Catholic schools. We are thankful for the tremendous joy this provides school communities.
Interested in becoming an Inclusive Educator? Applications for the Program for Inclusive Education are open! Visit ace.nd.edu/inclusion for more details!