How to Manage Self-Doubt When Writing


There are ideas. There are good ideas, great ideas. And then there are those ideas that come to you like a lightning strike, hit you in the face and leave you sitting on the floor in the middle of the night breathing heavily, questioning life. Those ideas that let you mumble to yourself: “I’m a genius.” This might possibly the best idea I’ve ever had, this is what I have been waiting on for weeks now. This is the solution to all my problems, my salvation, this is my break-through. Those ideas that send you of running through the house, singing, laughing, crying. Those ideas you don’t want to let go and that you congratulate yourself shamelessly for.

I’ve had a couple of them.

Then I threw them in the bin again.

Let me explain.

Option 1:

Those late-night epiphanies and wonderful story ideas that always come to me are – when revisited in proper daylight, frankly said – utter bullshit. They would never work, they are just a product of my sleep-deprived brain, of my overworked self trying to live in a different world. Straight up: This might just be escapism. I might have spend all night fantasising about that genius idea. About that fantasy story, that gigantic thriller I want to write. When looking at those in the morning I laugh at myself how stupid I have been. A shame to even call them ideas…

Option 2:

I forget them.

Up to this point I have forgotten so many ideas that I had when just going to sleep, too tired to write anything down anymore. The next morning they have left me. The genius has traded in a good night’s sleep with that idea. Well done. Maybe it wasn’t that good anyway.

Option 3:

I awake, remember that great idea I had and instantly start doubting myself. This is a part of the actual talk I had with myself recently about a novel idea:

“Alright, you just came up with the genius idea that connects everything you ever wanted to write about.”

“Well, but what if this is just a bad idea I had because I needed to at least write something?”

“No, you had that idea because you were ready for it and because you deserve to have that idea. It’s yours! And it’s not written yet, so go sit at your laptop.”

“The exam phase is soon, how am I going to find the time to write this? It’s a shitty concept. I just don’t buy it. Who am I to think I could write? Nobody has ever said that I’m good at what I’m doing.”

“You know as well as me that this is not true. Your friends, your dad… all the lovely people on your blog…”

“Maybe they just wanted to be nice! It’s so pretentious that I’m trying to write! I don’t have any experiences, what am I going to write about? I don’t know anything!”

“Then do research.”

“On what? You need to have lived for a while to write a novel, to be able to include your own story…”

“Think of that twelve year old who wrote several novels and made that Ted Talk. She hasn’t got that much to write about either, but she did! You are just lazy and anxious and boring. Those self-doubts do not lead you anywhere.”

“But my whole family will hate me if they read what I wrote! My friends, too! Everyone is going to hate me! I’m a shame to my family.”

“Listen, it’s not even written yet. You are the first person to put that story on the paper and to read it. You can edit it before you give it to others. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“That doesn’t change that this all was a horrible idea.”

“Oh come on, get over yourself! So many people have written books already. You can do that, too! You have done Nanowrimo! Twice!”

“That’s something different.”

“No it isn’t! You have written every freaking day, made a habit out of that. That’s exactly what you are going to do now. You are going to write every single day until you get better at what you are doing. Those self-doubts will never go away but at least you will not be bad at writing anymore if you do it often enough. Now give yourself some rest and read a book.”

This is also a strategy to get some writing done, I just noticed. Type out the dialogues you have with yourself. If there is no one else to talk to. What a sad existence I’m leading here. Writers are lonely people. No wonder they are always dealing with self-doubt. What distinguishes published authors from those who just have their first novels in their desk drawers? They beat through their own self-doubt. They wrote every single day until they got better. They still experience the crippling anxiety of creation but they trust their senses, they trust their instinct, they trust themselves. That’s the difference. Now go and write down your freaking idea.

Here are some methods I have used to beat this anxiety:

Allow yourself to write shit. Shit is great! Include swearwords in your writing. It frees your creative energy that is often centred against yourself. Shout at the paper you are writing on, get those negative feelings out.

Write anyway. Not feeling well? Start a collection of weird words and write about why you think they are weird. Write down a conversation you had today – doesn’t matter if it was with yourself or another person. Analyse the speech. Write different versions of that dialogue. Try to convey as much emotions as possible. Use different words and see how they sound.

Stream of consciousness. I love that technique. It’s brilliant. You set a timer and then write everything down that comes to your mind in that amount of time. Try to not stop while typing. Try to get everything out. It’s like a cleaning mechanism. Scrub your brain, my friend! Get all the bad stuff out and then you can properly start writing. Create a document for these kinds of texts. Write in it every day before your writing session. I called mine: “Some Weird Stuff”.

Let other people read what you write. Even if it is just small essays. Put it out there. Get some feedback. In the end, the critical comments will be the most helpful to you. For example, I learned through a friend of mine that I use far to many adjectives and too much descriptive language. I have to shorten my sentences. Make them more precise. Create music. Give my writing a rhythm. Oh, and I have to work on my dialogues. I noticed that myself: They are horrible.

Get your friends to read your texts and ask them for honest, constructive criticism. If they are true and great friends, they will give it to you. They will help you to become a better writer.
Step back from the idea. Ideas are great when you initially have them. Then life happens. They only get worse with time. Try to only think about them when you are writing. The shiny new effect wears off even more quickly if you constantly daydream about the idea. Give it some time and some thought. Don’t beat yourself up.

Identify the source of your doubts. Is it yourself? Society? Your friends? Where does this anxiety come from? Once you have found the source you have to options: a) work through it anyway and ignore the doubts b) give in and let go. It’s an active choice you have to make. Write your decision down, right after the idea you had.

I choose to pursue this idea no matter what because it is important to me.

I choose to let this idea go and look for something else instead.

Now comes the most essential part:

Let it go. If you have beat yourself up over an idea too much. If you have suffered too much. If you can’t sleep because of your anxiety: Stop. If it turns you into a self-hating, crying existence, it wasn’t that good of an idea. Now forget about it. Don’t try to mend it, adapt it, glue it together. That won’t work. Write the idea down on a piece of paper and then burn the paper.

Or bury it in the garden.

Or climb the highest hill in your neighbourhood, cry out in agony, stick the paper on a branch and run down with it shaking it against the sky and then collapse on the ground sobbing. Smell the earth beneath your face and rip the paper into small pieces you then let fly with the wind.

Or just throw it in the bin if you are not as dramatic as I am.

Let go. And then be happy again. Meditate or just let your mind wander. There will be other ideas. Humans are made to have ideas, to always find solutions. Maybe your next idea is just around the corner but you were too absorbed in your self-doubt that you didn’t notice it. You ignored its polite knocks on the door.

Now let it in, you are ready.

Never forget to write.

Never forget to love yourself.

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Advent Calendar 2016 #6


Dear December,

why is writing so hard? That’s a question I often ask myself. Then again, it seems to be fairly easy. Put one word after another until you have a text. Simple as that. My problem with writing is my own fear. Over the last days I have been working on an idea I had. That’s why I didn’t write to you, December. Many of my friends have encouraged me. One of them said today that she is touched by what I’m writing (which is incredibly sweet of her and makes me so happy). However, that it is for myself in the end. That’s obviously true. I do not write to other people in the beginning. The first draft is me telling myself the story. As Terry Pratchett suggested.

I read a lot of beautiful, wise quotes by Hemingway to keep myself working. I did. I wrote more than 1000 words every day. My problem now is – my story is bad. At least I think so. That’s my brain telling me that everything I do is bad. What is its motive? Fear. Fear of failing my own expectations, fear of getting something wrong. As I write these words I notice: If I don’t write anything, I cannot fix anything. This is why today I will be fearless and start my story. I will write some lines that will probably not make it into any of my drafts. But I will start something so that I can work on it. It will be messy but that’s ok.

For any of you out there who might be facing that fear: It’s ok to have it, just do something about it. Write anyway. Write through your fear. I will do that, too. Anything is better than an empty document. Anything is better than a story never told.

Here is a lovely quote which helped me a lot:

“People say to write about what you know. I’m here to tell you, no one wants to read that, cos you don’t know anything. So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever.” Toni Morrison

December, I will keep you updated.

Lots of Love

 

Verena

 

 

Advent Calendar 2016 #2


I Found a Story.

Dear December,

last night I found a story. It probably came to me because I freaked out about having none. Because I was desperately searching. Or maybe it was there all along and I didn’t notice it, wasn’t ready for it. You should write the novel you would want to read. So I sat down and wrote about what I wanted to read. Then I realised that it was actually a nice idea.

I need a plan. I always need one. Through many Ted Talks I have learned how to proceed. Imagine you book on a shelf. Where is it located? Next to which authors does it sit? That’s your genre. I figured, I’ll be writing a crime novel, a thriller, something along those lines. Write your idea down in one sentence. What is the book about? Break it down into a number of words. For mine it will probably be around 150 000. That’s a goal. Goals can be reached, abstract ideas cannot.

I will make my first plan in December and go on to write this whole thing in the following three months. 50 000 words a month. I have already done that twice. It was hard but not impossible. After that comes the most difficult part. To transform this disastrous first draft into something that is actually readable. Sort out the mess. Find all the flaws, make the characters more interesting etc etc. I tried to write in German today but I found that I have become so clumsy! The words do not flow anymore! I mean every book I read, every video I watch, every text I type is in English. It was never my intention to get so bad at my own mother tongue, though! It’s kind of frightening. Furthermore, because English isn’t my native language, I always feel insecure. I actually don’t know that many words and I haven’t grown up with it. Maybe my writing is extremely awkward and I don’t even notice! Please tell me honestly.

Lots of Love

Verena

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Finding Your Purpose in Life


I wanted to take a day off today. I’m a workaholic, though. Stopping doesn’t work. I’ll expand my word count today, whatever it takes. One hour. Word sprint. Stream of consciousness on. 3, 2, 1, go.

It’s already late in the evening again. When I get philosophical. You can count on me on every late night out with my friends. I’ll ask the question about the purpose of life. Sitting together with my family. I’ll eventually say something very deep and will fall into a stream of ideas and considerations about life.

When I started this project I said to myself: You will get up early and write. Not like last year, when you gave up sleep to write. Guess what I do now… I’m starting to forget many important things. But I still keep up with uni. With work. That’s nice. There are a few Ted Talks that I listened to that changed my thinking a lot. Up to this point, nearly all my knowledge is derived from Ted Talks…

Conversations.

Having a good conversation. That also goes along the lines with being charismatic. Show the person you are talking to that he or she is the most important one to you in this very moment. Put your phone away. Focus on the conversation. Don’t multitask. The chance that you will miss something important is high.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1vskiVDwl4&list=LLnp37egRNT9OVdNuaEZJJQg&index=17

This is gold. You should definitely watch it. If you don’t have the time, let me briefly summarise:

Be in the moment. Don’t focus on the details, no numbers, please. Keep it short. Don’t repeat things you have already talked about.

“Listening requires to set aside oneself.” Don’t think you know how the person felt in that moment. Don’t tell them your personal story of “that one time I…” The chances are high that the feelings of the person you are talking to are completely different. It will not help them if you dig out your own history. Be there, be present. Tell them that you understand their feelings, that you appreciate their trust and that you will support them. That’s all you need to say.

Like you have learned in school for writing a report, ask questions like What? Why? They spark the conversation!

Don’t play the expert. You don’t know everything! Bill Nye said “Everyone you’ll ever meet knows something that you don’t.” Find that something! It makes a conversation so much more interesting if you try to find out what the other person is passionate about. Let them talk and learn from it. Listen carefully.

Have you ever been in a situation where you drifted off because you really wanted to say something, when the other one was still talking? Then you said it and didn’t fit at all? You stopped listening. Always remain silent until the last word of the sentence is spoken.

In the end of her talk she recited this one sentence: “A good conversation is like a miniskirt. Short enough to remain interesting but long enough to cover the subject.”

However inappropriate that might seem – it is still a very good summary.

Yesterday I watched the talk of an improv artist which was amazing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkcmN-CCYw

An improviser has to listen. Follow the ideas of other people. Implement them. There are three aspects you should consider in your everyday conversation.

Yes, end.

You are not only accepting an idea but going with the flow. You are adding your ideas to it. A conversation between two improvisers might look like that: “Doctor, I’m here for my four o’clock appointment.” “Alright, lie down, we will get started with the brain transplantation.”

The second improviser did not only accept the idea but developed it further. That is what you should do in everyday conversation. Get excited about the ideas of others. Try to cut your doubts for a minute. Let the other person tell you about their new project!

Make them look good.

It’s not about yourself. If you accept an idea, their enthusiasm will look justified. If you help them develop their idea further, they will be happy. Don’t make the conversation about yourself. You doubts. Your ideas. Your failures. When somebody tells your about an idea, say: Awesome!

Be positive.

While having dinner with a friend of mine today, she told me how to reject ideas in a better way. It’s very interesting how the word order can change the meaning so completely. Consider these two sentences.

“I like your idea but it wouldn’t work.”

“I would do it like that but your idea seems also good.”

Be positive! If you don’t like something, say so. Acknowledge the efforts and ideas of the other person. Make them look good, even if it was a bad idea. It’s not about you.

These are some aspects of how to have a better conversation. Chances are high that in my next one I’ll forget these aspects again. However, sometimes they pop up in your head and you might word something differently. You might make the day of someone because you accepted their idea. Because you said Yes, and…

Saying Yes is a great concept for life, too. I have some trouble reading all these books about finding yourself. Instead I like 10 minute talks of people who will tell me what the purpose of my life is. Now that one was brilliant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVsXO9brK7M&list=WL&index=44

Up to that point I hadn’t really found anything that would deserve the title “Life purpose” yet. Not something you wake up with every day and that lets you jump out of bed and get to work. Not that kind of purpose. Not that kind that you can print and hang on your wall. If someone asked me: What do you do? I’ll stumble around a bit. Well, I’m an environmentalist I guess and kind of a writer and a bit of an artist… I think…

That’s not something that keeps you going! I needed something different. “I want to make the world a better place” is very vague. Too vague.

Have you found the purpose in your life yet? This talk will get you a little closer to finding it. With five little questions.

1. Who are you?

Say your name out loud. The most simple question.

2. What do you do?

That was the first tricky one for me. I do too many things! I have too many passions and activities. I love them all equally, so I thought. He said that same thing. If you have too many passions, choose the one you feel comfortable teaching to others. When he counted down from 5, what popped up in my head? Writing. That’s the thing I do. I write freaking 1666 words a day. Still at it. Not given up yet. For the second time in two years. Therefore, I said: Writing.

3. Who do you do it for?

Oh boy, the next difficult question. I write on a blog. About the environment. Whom is that all dedicated to? Everyone. I write to everyone who likes to read my stories and my rants and the confusing little texts I produce every day.

4. What do those people want or need?

Wow, that’s tough. Information about our environment? How to change their behaviour to make this earth a better place? An outspoken advocate for our planet? Still very rough but it’s beginning to take a shape.

5. How do the people change through your work?

They hopefully become more aware of their environment. I would like to make people work together to protect our earth. Now that’s a purpose!

Now comes the best part. If you have gone through all these stages of finding your purpose, you will have one amazing sentence for question 5. I want to make people smile. You could be a baker, an artist? I want to make them realise their potential. A coach? I want to give children the best chances to a good life. A teacher? These sentences sound so much more interesting than just the profession you hold. Next time someone asks you what you do, answer with the sentence you came up with for number 5. That will force them to ask. How do you do that? How do you achieve this goal, this purpose? A conversation is initiated. You look like a dedicated and inspiring personality.

Your life purpose can change. Your priorities might change. That’s ok! At least try to have one at every point of your life. If also can be to make your family happy. Your friends. Make it about the people around you. Do something for them. By helping other people, we ourselves get a little happier.

It’s exactly one hour later now. I have reached the 40 000 words I should have reached today. Only 10 000 left and 6 days to go. I’m in schedule, everything is fine. I’m tired. It’s going to be ok. I’ve found my life purpose today. Well, kind of. I’m still a little scared. Writing is not a particularly secure job. Is it even really a job in the end? Am I just naive? Me and my crazy ideas? Just keep going, I say to myself. Write on.

Current Word Count: 40 180

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NaNoWriMo Day 10: Environmentalism 2.0


The first snow of the autumn has reached Cottbus and we are freezing, sitting in Uni and trying not to think about what happened yesterday. We are a bunch of hopeful people. At least we try to be.

We discussed the events a lot today and one particular thought haunted us. What will happen to our environment? All that we try to fight for?

In International Environmental Law, our lecturer suggested that we took a good look at the Paris Agreement, Article 28:

At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary. (…)

Even if Trump wanted to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it would take 3 years for him to hand in that note and another year until he really would get out of it. So well done, Obama, for signing it just in time. That’s what we read in the law. The problem is – there is also the possibility to simply not do what’s in the law. In this very case, the Paris Agreement is not as harsh as the Kyoto Protocol. The US hasn’t signed that one, by the way. And Canada withdrew to not face the fines they had to pay because they didn’t fulfil the regulations. Germany isn’t much better either…

For many people, the Paris Agreement is a groundbreaking accomplishment. It may be, for all that I know. I’ll go a bit into detail once we have discussed it in uni. There are a lot of things I don’t really understand yet. Law is so confusing! The difficulty with treaties is this: It will not change single people. There is a lot of talking without saying anything. There are a lot of action plans never implemented. There are a lot of recommendations never considered.

My dad believes that the real change has to be made economically. I can see his point. We live in a world where money is playing a vital part in our lives. Who am I kidding, The part in our lives. Which ever way we might argue, we are not going to change that. Therefore, we have to work on that basis. There are lots of economical solutions we were taught in our Economics classes. Standards, Taxes, Tradable Permits. Very simplified they mean the following: Standards set the pollution to a certain level. Taxes often provide the incentive to emit even less because you still have to pay taxes on even little emissions. Tradable Permits are based on the idea that there is a polluter with more emissions and one with less. Both own emission permits. The one with higher emissions can buy those from the one with smaller emissions. Thereby the one who emits less, makes a profit. We could even implement that on a private level: If you want to drive long distance with your car, there has to be someone who creates energy by a solar plant, for example. Trade the permissions and everyone is happy.

The idea is this: If you pollute, you have to pay. This is a lovely principle which can be found written down in the Rio Declaration of 1992. It has a legal basis in International Law. However, it isn’t really implemented on a global scale. In the end, the consumer has to pay. It’s as simple as that.

I also really like the idea of a carbon tax for people. Every action that increases the greenhouse gas emissions has to be paid for. Make meat and fish so expensive that no one is able to buy them anymore and no one will do so.

This strategy seems nice but I doubt it would work like that. Furthermore, the implementation is just not possible. We have such a strong lobby especially behind the biggest emitters – the food, transport and energy industry. This is where people need to make changes.

Emily Hunter (http://emilyhunter.ca/), the daughter of two of the founders of greenpeace, speaks in a Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB2qtDaiRw&list=WL&index=36) about modern activism. She has been everywhere, fighting and campaigning for environmentalism. Until she found that this kind of activism might not be for her. Going with boats into every corner of our oceans to stop whale hunting. That’s so seventies! Instead, she started to make films and write books, make documentaries about activists and share their stories. She is a journalist and calls herself storyteller. Her activism is storytelling.

She points out that our generation is the biggest to ever have existed on this planet. And we are the ones to bring the change. Maybe not by old-fashioned campaigning anymore but by media. We are able to write and film and make this earth a better place. Our voices are completely different from those of the 1970s. Now, the environment should concern all of us and it does. Therefore, we should all be environmentalists in our own ways. You don’t have to buy yourself a boat and fight against whaling in the Antarctic. You might not be a part of huge protests or demonstrations. You might simply share the message that this planet needs our help and we therefore have to stand up to make it happen. If you can, though, try to make your message heard to as many people as possible.

She also mentions that the movement has to become much more radical. At the moment there are many actions which are on a local level. Or which go viral for a few weeks and disappear again. We need to change that. Our planet has to be on the agenda permanently. Not on a negative note, though. It has to fill our news with hopeful messages and not ones of despair.

I believe our future lies in technology. My father is an engineer, that should explain a lot. Renewable energies and technology to help us with all the problems we face. In many rural areas solar panels and mobile phones have transformed the business life. The education system. People are empowered and find new ways to use their potential. There is another wonderful TedTalk I would like to suggest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDo2mx5aBts. The Future of Environmentalism.

We face many environmental challenges in this world but they can be solved by investing in human brain power and technology. This sustainable innovation can be our way to save this world and make our lives better. I just found out, that there is some research done to make solar panels out of carbon and not silicon.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carbon-emerges-as-new-solar-power-material/

There are projects to make artificial photosynthesis work, much more effective than the real ones of plants. Still, it is a very good idea to plant trees. We should never underestimate the power of our vegetation. I love trees, I also hug them sometimes.

The past environmentalism has been based on two things. Fear and Guilt. Fear doesn’t work. Guilt doesn’t work. In industrialised countries, we have caused the problem of climate change. Maybe guilt works for us. But not for those who suffer from the consequences of our irresponsible behaviour!

We love doing stuff. So instead of telling people what not to do, we should encourage them to make stuff! To come up with new technologies and innovations! Humans are so good at that!

“The new environmentalism is got to be about doing more, not doing less. About inspiring people to tackle climate change but also giving people a better life in the here and now.” Martin Wright

Today, I want to motivate you to change things by doing some little things that may have a widespread impact.

  1. All around the globe, small businesses try to bring changes in their communities. On https://www.kiva.org/ you can find them and help them with giving micro-credits. They pay you the money back and you can invest in the next project. This way innovative people are supported, especially women who normally do not have the chance to do so in many developing countries.
  2. Invest in crowd-funding. There are incredible minds out there working on the environmental technology of the future. You can find them on crowd-funding websites – help support their projects or spread the word!
  3. Watch the videos I suggested and share them with other people. Inspire them to take action and tell them that it is important to you. Talk to them about how you can make a difference.
  4. Most importantly, though, is to inform yourself. Read an article about renewable energies, about new technologies, about trees if you like, everything that excites you! If you are an engineer, maybe you can find ways to work on environmental projects or share your knowledge with others.
  5. For my fellow WordPress bloggers: If you are interested in photography, I challenge you to make a photo report about environmental problems in your region or hometown. It can be water pollution, waste, air pollution, mining … anything that you recognise as a problem. Whatever difficulties you find in your neighbourhood. Go out and take a photo. Write about it. Share it with other people. This is a small contribution but in our modern age, it is not that hard to get your voice heard. The WordPress community is an absolutely lovely one and I enjoy so much being part of it.
    In the end I will dedicate a post to your topic and I will do a lot of research to back it with some facts. Thereby, we will have stories from everywhere shared on different platforms to underline their importance.

In Cottbus, for example, we have a big problem with open cast and lignite mining. The pollution and environmental damage it has caused is unbelievable. Habitats are destroyed, people have to move, whole ecosystems are ruined. For long periods of time. The lakes build after the mining will never have the same biodiversity as before.

Those are the stories I’m looking for. Share them, make them important. Let them be your contribution, your activism 2.0, your new environmentalism.

Current Word Count: 17677

Education.


No matter what anybody tells you words and ideas can change the world.

says Mr Keating in the Dead Poet’s Society, which is one of my favourite films. If you are able to raise your voice and stand up for your rights, you can achieve wonderful things.

In the last days I have been very inspired by the many talks of Malala Yousafzai I listened to. Furthermore, I finished reading her book which I started ages ago. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Her endurance, her strength, her wise words show me that you always have to speak up and that education is the key for peace and development. Here are some awesome speeches and interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOqIotJrFVM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAhjiUh-Pho

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKIQ_AyLi30

I have had the privilege to get a great education, primary and secondary and now even university. I will forever be grateful for that. I love studying and reading and following my curiosity. I love to go beyond what is in the curriculum, ask questions and teach myself new things. When times are difficult I step back and tell myself what a great honour it is for me to have this opportunity and then I go on and study for that exam.

Today, I went for a run with my lovely friend Izzy today and our conversations are always very deep and honest. We talked about our school system and it was the reason for this little text. In schools in Germany you are often only taught what is in the curriculum. You do not learn how to study. You do not learn how to be interested in a topic. You do not learn how to solve problems and seek answers for yourself. You do not learn to think critically.
In their studies, teachers learn a lot about their subjects but hardly anything about how to teach. As I give private lessons now to students, I know how hard it can be to explain something to a pupil who doesn’t want to learn. In those moments I think back to my school experience, search for teachers I admire and ask myself what they would do. I find my answers in only two or three of them. Three from a period of 12 years!

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein

I believe that it is as important to know about your subject, as it is to know how to talk to your students. How to motivate them. Being excited about is not required if you want to be a teacher. If you are highly motivated, you will soon see that not many people value that. You simply lose the spirit after some time. We do not value teachers who look beneath the surface or try to encourage critical thinking. We do not value teachers who want you to read and learn all by yourself. We do not value teachers who teach you about life and morality.

This is the situation in Germany. We still have a good school system, though, because every girl and boy is able to go to a school. Globally, the statistics are shocking. 60 million children in 2013 did not go to primary school which is devastating. Or as the UNESCO put it:

Among children of primary school age, 1 out of 10 girls and 1 out of 12 boys were out of school in 2013.

You can have a closer look at the figures here: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/fs-31-out-of-school-children-en.pdf

Schools are the key to a peaceful world. Education teaches us respect, tolerance, patience, understanding. It teaches us about culture and values, about moral and our human rights.

When in September 2015, about one year ago, the world leaders decided on the new global goals I was thinking about which my number one priority would be. I decided for number 4. Here is why: If investing in education, we can end wars and therefore bring peace and better lives to people. Education for every child is the first step in the direction of gender equality. Children have to learn about our planet and how to treat it, how to act responsible and sustainable.

In sociology in the first semester we had an interesting graph: People with higher education are more likely to act environmentally responsible. Out of this group, women are more likely to do so than men. What are the consequences? We have to educate people from a very young age and provide them with primary and secondary education to show them the importance of treating our mother earth right.
Many girls are not able to go to school because of war, of cultural aspects and they will stay at home. They will raise their kids to believe in the same values as they do. There is no escape except, they receive a quality education. It empowers them, gives strength to their voices and makes them stand up for their rights and beliefs. We need more women leaders in the world and I believe that they will also bring change in the way we treat our environment. If they are not in positions for change, they will at least ask the right questions, they will speak up and their combined voices will lead to rethinking of the challenges we face today.

I’m curious…

Which of the global goals would you choose as your priority?

What are your thoughts on education?