When I think about teachers meeting in dialogue I imagine them meeting in a synapse. ‘Uhhh pardon me, a synapse?’. To explain, I’m going to have to take you on a journey all the way back to high school biology. Think nerves, neurons, synapses and all that jazz.
What fascinated me then, and still does now, is the role played by a space called ‘the synapse’ in the nerve pathway. It is the space in between two neurons that is essential in enabling information (action) to successfully move through the nervous system.
A synapse is a gap – a place not directly connected (owned) by either neuron! It is a shared in between meeting place for neurons! Neurons cannot share their messages without releasing them into this in between place.
Any hope for connection and forward movement is dependent on three things – first, an initial neuron releasing a message, next, a successful meeting of that message in the space in between neurons and, lastly, the receptivity of the next neuron to pick up the message from the soup of that chemical meeting place and keep moving it forwards. The journey through this in between space is both complex and magnificent!
Further adding to the beauty of this biological narrative – the edge where one neuron releases its message into the gap is called the synaptic cleft – a naming that generously invites us to imagine the release of a message as something akin to a leap of faith!
In these nerve journeys, taking a thought in the mind to action in the body, there are thousands of ‘spaces in between’ that have to be traversed.
I couldn’t imagine a better picture to describe what it takes for educators to meet in a place of rich and transformative dialogue. Our conversations always, and only, exist in the spaces in between, in the risky places not owned by you or me, where in all our uncertainty we release and receive from one another, hoping that somehow we will make a connection that will move our thought and actions forwards.
I look forward to meeting you in the, ever hopeful and inevitably complex, spaces in between!