Unlocking Potential for Student Achievement

Posted by Julia Rappaport on November 10, 2014

Teachers have to create this emotional space where it’s safe, but challenging. Where people can be themselves. Where people can take chances and fail. Where people can tell stories about themselves and reveal things about themselves without risk of derision, without fear of being marginalized. Without safety there is nothing, there is no learning.”

– John Amaechi

What does it take to empower and inspire young people to meet their potential, think critically, and ask questions that matter? Human rights advocate, psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, and former National Basketball Association (NBA) player John Amaechi OBE says the key is creating a safe environment where students can explore all facets of their identity. Watch below:

In his 2007 book Man in the Middle, Amaechi chronicled his life and work, providing distinct lessons to anyone ever told that they were not capable of doing great things. Amaechi's journey to becoming an elite athlete almost defies belief. At the age of 17, when he first picked up a basketball, Amaechi was considered "too late to the game" and "not athletic enough" to have any chance of success in domestic sport, much less overseas. Six short years later he became a starter in the NBA. After retiring from the sport, Amaechi pursued a PhD in psychology, and today he works as an organizational consultant, helping institutions better understand, manage, and improve their personnel, climate, and culture.

You can find resources for fostering safer classrooms here.

How do you inspire and empower young people? Comment below.

Topics: Classrooms, Choosing to Participate, Events, Safe Schools, Schools, Memphis, Identity, Facing History Together, Upstanders, Facing History and Ourselves, Teachers, Video

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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