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Lessons from the dragonfly

When I was little, I was fiercely afraid of dragonflies. To be clear, I was scared of many things when I was little. Based on some trauma in my early years, I was just a frightened little boy. In hindsight, my fear of dragonflies was irrational. I know that now, but little me was petrified. Dragonflies are large. They make a lot of noise (for an insect). I remember thinking they would most definitely bite me. That bite would definitely kill me. I avoided them at all costs.

At some point in my young adult life, I decided to do a little research on them. What I came to understand is dragonflies are one of the most friendly, helpful insects out there. Not only do they not bite, but they actually make a feast of mosquitos, the critters who do love to feast on human blood. This little tidbit of knowledge shifted my perspective immensely. No longer afraid, I actually began to seek out dragonflies and was happy to see them around me.

Sometimes when I walk near the ocean, I will see a cluster of dragonflies and they bring me a great deal of joy. And then I think of the scared little boy who would run from them and try to be tender with him, wishing I could take his hand and walk with him and tell him all about dragonflies and not to be afraid.

In education, there are often times something new and unknown that seems scary. I can think of many examples. Students with needs I didn't understand. New ways of teaching something I thought I knew. New curriculum. The list goes on. What I've learned in my many years is the 'scary' almost always is nothing to be afraid of... when we take the time to learn more we usually see the beauty, the benefits, the brilliance in what seemed scary.

So, let's be gentle with ourselves. The dragonflies would like that.

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