Space. Space. Space. Oh, how I love space. Physical space, absolutely, but more than that: emotional and mental space, that white space where my day is not jam-packed and my brain isn’t overflowing with a to-do list and other pressing needs. After years of struggling with this concept, leading to near burnout and depression, I feel I have gained some wisdom around how to create space in my day, week, month, year and feel much the richer for it. Less is indeed more in this area.
With my love of space, you can imagine what a delightful surprise it was to turn up to the Chatter Matters symposium at Government House last year to be presented with just that. I had arrived with a sense of excitement at what the day might hold, but also a sense of trepidation that something intense and more than I could offer might be expected of me. I need not have worried.
In a nutshell, the day allowed a large and varied group of people to gather around a mutual passion to see literacy levels increased across Tasmania. The setup of the day allowed for ample opportunity to hear one another and to be heard. I found myself connecting with people on a deep level as we closely listened to one another’s experiences of literacy, both the good and the bad. The opportunity to reflect back what we had heard through words and pictures was profound and allowed me to hear my story afresh, gaining a new perspective and understanding of how the highs and the lows of my own literacy journey were woven together. No matter what else may come of this day, I will remain forever thankful that I was able to be a part of it.
In some ways, it might seem obvious that as an educator of several years, I would naturally be drawn to a symposium and a cause such as this. And that would be an accurate assumption. However, as I have sat and reflected on this cause, together with others that bring me to tears, for me it always comes down to a question of injustice. Being a part of this symposium and this community has helped me to find a space where my sense of the inequity and injustice that poor literacy can bring is shared, together with the sense of hope that we can make a change: a hope that a poor start in anything does not have to mean a negative future or a bad end.
Where next? It’s hard to be sure. But I am reminded of and heartened by the quote from Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
Diane is the Principal of Newstead Christian School.
She was an attendee at the Communicating: The Heart of Literacy symposium at Government House in November 2018.