Why Joe Bower Mattered to Me

Author: Karen Copeland

I’ve written a great deal about how reaching out and connecting with educators has had an impact on my perception of the education system. I would go so far as to say these informal connections played a pivotal role in helping me shift away from some very negative thought processes towards feeling hopeful and inspired about education. Believe me, this was not an easy shift to make. But here I am, and grateful for it.

joe bower

One of the first educators I started following on twitter was a guy by the name of Joe Bower. I can’t even remember how I came across him, but I’m glad I did. Joe also happened to write a blog (for the love of learning), and it became clear to me, very early on, that this guy cared about kids and education.

There was another reason this man’s words resonated with me though. As I explored his blog, I learned that he worked as a teacher in a child psychiatry unit in Central Alberta. Here was a teacher who was working with some very vulnerable children. And he wasn’t giving up on them. In fact, he was actively sharing how it was more important for adults to reflect on how their actions influence a child’s behavior. And not only was he sharing WHY we needed to start thinking differently, he also shared HOW he was doing this with specific examples.

In my post Let’s Be Blunt: The Illusion of Inclusion I wrote:

It is very often these champions who are in our schools and workplaces every day advocating for our kids by sharing their viewpoints and perspectives with colleagues who may not yet have heard them. They are the teachers who bring forward ideas for change, who encourage different ways of thinking.

Joe Bower passionately shared his knowledge and viewpoints with the education world through his writing. But he wasn’t just sharing these with educators. For those of us parents who happened to come across his work, he became a champion; someone who was willing to not just say all kids matter, but show this as well.

From his post Consequences for whom?

If we really care about character growth and ethical development in children, we have to stop managing their behaviors and start working with them as safe and caring allies. We need to stop seeing misbehavior as this thing to be squashed out and start seeing misbehavior as problems to be solved together.

We have to stop reacting to misbehavior by saying:

He has done something bad; now something bad must be done to him.

And we need to start saying:

We have a problem here; how are we going to solve it together?

Please do take some time to go and read more of Joe’s posts on how we can Re-Think Discipline and start showing our kids we believe in them.

Joe Bower passed away on January 3, 2016. The world lost a true champion that day, one who left an undeniable mark on the education world. My sincere condolences to Joe’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.


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