I haven't written a blog post in a long while and I've been wanting to tell a story about teachable moments and making mistakes for many months. February is Black History Month and it seems fitting that I'm finally sitting down today to tell this story.
During the summer, I was invited to write a column for my local newspaper on the topic of how to talk to children about racism and the pandemic. I had written about these subjects elsewhere on this blog before but not as one cohesive entry. I had to uncover a theme that could connect these two seemingly disparate topics. The concepts of persistence and resilience seemed to connect the two well, so I entitled the article Learning to Persevere: Talking to Children about the Pandemic and Racism. In it, I talk about simple life lessons I use in my parenting and professional development work, lessons I learned in my own Greek family and ones that can help guide families and individuals as we weather these stormy times.
In the fall, I had recorded a special documentary on the life of Chadwick Boseman to be viewed later when I would have some time. I had become interested in learning more about this fine actor, as I had not known much, other than the fact that he starred in the film "Black Panther" and had recently lost his battle to colon cancer at the young age of 43. When I finally did play Robin Robert's ABC News Special: "Chadwick Boseman - A Tribute for a King," I walked away with many strong feelings. Some were associated with admiration and awe at a man whose strength and determination achieved so much in the last four years of his life, even while battling this unforgiving disease. Others dealt with sadness that he did not live longer to inspire more young people and do more good for our global community. Still others paralyzed me - they were feelings of dread and anger at myself for not having known an important fact I discovered only because I happened to watch this documentary. It turns out that one of the featured speakers on the special was Marc Lamont Hill, someone I had included in my article about racism and the pandemic. What I had not known while writing my article, and probably should have known, was that he was Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University. I had watched a piece on CBS News that showed a clip of him interviewing John Legend in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, where he was labeled a BET news personality, which also happens to be true. His words had inspired me to reflect more deeply on the distinction between hope and optimism and that's how I had infused him into my piece. This sort of misattribution by way of not fully rounding out his identity as a truly accomplished African-American academic, however, made me feel guilty for not having done any additional research before I included him in my narrative. I knew I had to fix that and fix it quickly but you know how it goes. The intensity of feeling slowly dissipates and then life happens and we don't do the things we've vowed to do. The truth is that I started writing this blog post in October but got interrupted and didn't go back to finish it, until now.
The way this experience relates to parenting, child development, and reflective pedagogy is through teaching the significance of the adages "better late than never" and "always keep your word." It is never too late to own up to an error, whatever it may be. Making mistakes is how we learn, how we do better, how we develop a growth mindset at any age. I hope this story inspires you to start conversations with your loved ones about teachable moments. Some may seem small and insignificant but I guarantee you they can pollinate and shift perspectives that can last a lifetime.
To your health!
Anastasia Galanopoulos, Ph.D. Parent, Educator, Health Activist. A note about my signature. When I first started teaching at Wheelock College, one of my first students with whom I still keep contact, started referring to me as Dr. G. In the affectionate spirit of its tone, I adopt that nickname here.