When is it brave . . . ?

We had an interesting discussion about courage today. Is it courageous to do something scary if it actually doesn’t scare you? Does being brave mean facing your fears? Is courage a personal thing depending on your own individual qualms? Hmm . . . We decided that we should start with figuring out and writing down some of our own fears. I started and shared some of mine – losing my children in a public place (the classic Mommy nightmare). Mice. In my house. Being in a small motorized boat on the open sea – the speed, what lurks in that deep dark water, being stranded far from land, ahhh! Scary!

Many students were able to share fears easily – fire, the dark, robbers, rats, dogs, getting lost, a family member getting sick. Lots of honesty, lots of discussion. Some students claimed they are not afraid of anything. At all. Not the dentist? Monsters? Talking in front of a crowd? Nope. Nothing. Interesting. This makes me wonder about the fear of admitting our fears and about the posturing denying it involves.

Are the bravest of us those who confess all of our fears readily? Are some of us truly fearless?

We read a book to remind us that there are all kinds of scary things.

Some Things are Scary (No Matter How Old You Are) written by Florence Parry Heide and illustrated by Jules Feiffer is full of examples of everyday potentially frightening things. Super easy to connect to – the class was full of “Eeews” and “Ahhs” and “Oh yeah, scary” as they listened.

From the story:

“Roller skating down hill when you haven’t figured out how to stop – is scary”

“Finding out your best friend has a best friend – who isn’t you – is scary.”

“Telling a lie – is scary.”

Heide’s simple statements and Feiffer’s delightful illustrations allow us to fill in the blanks and really imagine how scary some of these things might be. Yes, we are reminded of many fears but also reassured that we all have some. (Well, except, a few students of mine who are apparently fearless!)

The first of many books we will be reading on the theme of courage.

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