Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 13, 2017

Local magazine features student’s thoughts on safe spaces, vulnerability, leaving teaching

Local magazine features student’s thoughts on safe spaces, vulnerability, leaving teaching

The Power of Vulnerability, by Abigail Swetz, Our Lives, November–December 2017, pages 40–43.

The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism

Abby Swetz will participate in the panel discussion The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism with author Keith Catone. Information about the sold-out event on Saturday, December 2 is online

In the current issue of Our Lives, former teacher – and first-year La Follette School student – Abby Swetz reflects on the triumphs and travails of the classroom and why she left teaching to pursue her master’s degree in public affairs.

Swetz, the 2017 GSAFE Educator of the Year, writes about the importance of safe spaces and about how she creates her safe space through the power of vulnerability.

“The language describing the state of being vulnerable is violent language, with definitions like ‘open to attack’ and ‘susceptible to being wounded’,” she writes. “I would define being vulnerable as openly being a whole person when being a fraction of one would be easier.”

She says many events prompted her career change, including her recent marriage and the 2016 election.

“Now it is time to take the lessons my students and I built together to the rest of the world,” she writes. “It is time to make our world a safe space.”

Several of Swetz’s former students also share their reflections about the time spent discovering their own vulnerability and truth in the classroom and why those safe spaces matter.