Thursday, November 11, 2010

Agueda's Thoughts: Personal Agency

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It is a fact in my life that every individual has different needs; while many may be similar to each other, no two individuals can benefit equally from one potential solution. With this in mind, I struggle when I consider the many solutions posed by the government, law makers, and education experts on how to improve our education system. While true comprehensive reform is essential for the system as a whole, one cannot expect to have students from every level benefit equally from the changes. Considering that, it can be extremely overwhelming to think about how we are going to help every person who is part of such a huge system. It can be very easy to become discouraged when thinking about doing something to help; but accepting that you cannot save the whole world is a start. Beyond that, it is paramount to remember that your personal agency is far more powerful than you would like to believe.

I have had many conversations with people who wonder why I do the work that I do. Some people say, “You can’t save every young person and you can’t change the system so why bother?” I often would be offended that they did not see the world the way I did but how could they? If it is difficult to have one solution benefit two people equally, how could I expect to have another individual agree on all of my views and politics? I learned along the way that my purpose in having such discussions was necessarily to convince them to join my side but hope that there could be a third space we both could reach in which we would agree. I do not expect to have every person become an educator, a school principal, a superintendent, or have a career change and devote their lives to young people. What I do hope to do is to have every person acknowledge and tap into their personal agency.

Every person can do something to try and better this world. You do not have to be a law maker or part of a governmental entity to make an impact. The people that I work with and the mentors we bring all know that. We all know that having a simple conversation with a young person about why they skipped school or why they got into a fight can make a huge impact. It is difficult to balance the personal with the systematic but one does not have to be at the expense of the other. Every person who works on the macro level can still make an impact in a single person’s life by simply caring and if enough of these acts are done then the impact can be at the macro level as well.

So when learning about all the potential solutions that school districts and law makers are struggling to produce, do not get discouraged when realizing that they probably will not get it right, just think about what it is that you can do to impact a young person’s life. History has taught us that we cannot rely or expect those on top to solve all the issues in our communities especially because all laws cannot and do not have the same impact on all individuals within our society. Because of that, as socially conscious individuals it is our responsibility to embrace our personal agency and put it to use.


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