In Front of Us

Submitted By:
Zachary Virgin, Faith Christian School, Roanoke, VA

Teaching is about counting. David Brooks’ How to Know a Person takes this notion one step further. In his book, Brooks calls into question the extent to which merely counting, that is, seeing people and letting them know that they are seen, is the end for which all people should strive. Brooks offers a subtle extension to this argument. Yes, we should strive to see those individuals with whom we interact, and, yes, we should strive to let them know in some way that we do see them. But we should also seek to understand those same individuals because “there are few things as fulfilling as that sense of being seen and understood” (emphasis added). Brooks reflects on some skills that are helpful to this end, others less so. He invites readers to join him in ruminating on what kind of person we seek to be. Moreover, he calls us to rely less on our interpretations of the thoughts and feelings we think we see, than on simply asking questions of those in front of us. Brooks’ work reminds us that we can live into our greatest duty only by seeking to understand fully our students and colleagues. In educational communities increasingly prioritizing both belonging and honest discourse, Brooks offers accessible options to consider.

Leadership Practice
Psychology & Human Development