Exceptionally talented, hard-working and passionate about her journey, Angela Abraham shares her inspirational journey with us. Angela is pro-active in driving forward positive change and impact; her words have the potential to touch the masses. “In this life we keep our souls alive by knowing that giving is not of a transfer of material possession, but to give of the self.” – Angela’s wisdom is so valuable, TheGrad is grateful to have her share real life experiences with us.
Enjoy, embrace and evolve.
1.What is your full name, the company you work for and your position within the company?
I’m Angela Abraham, founder of the globally successful website, “Descriptionari.” I’m an educational writer for a major publishing house (MBD group, Holy Faith International), creating the series, “Science All Around.” This series embeds high-school level physics principles into quirky stories for four year olds and over. I’m a science teacher, a youth advocate, a peace advocate, a social evolutionist, an environmentalist, a cyclist and an amateur eco-gardener.
2.In what ways does the company you work for accommodate graduates?
My company creates a massive impact for social good, yet does not create enough revenue to employ; I hope that one day it will. Right now, the opportunities with Descriptionari are to be onboard with the new wave of creating positive social cycles and disengaging from the “me-first” selfish culture that is encouraged by the world of economics. I would rather keep the help that Descriptionari provides free to access (and make less money) than earn more. Money is a fictional construct, kids are real. The great teacher isn’t “going to work,” they’re caring for their other family, and I see Descriptionari as the same mission. There are so many kids and communities in the world that have internet access but otherwise need free resources that a “paywall” would feel morally wrong. Working with Descriptionari is an opportunity to make a difference. In this life, we keep our souls alive by knowing that giving is not of a transfer of material possession, but to give of the self.
3.What is the current market like for internships, long-term careers and other opportunities, in your opinion?
For this question, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to be a teacher today and then from the perspective of being a writer.
I am still a classroom teacher. Everything I do in the classroom that works is intuition and love, it’s calmness, assertiveness and bags of empathy. Teacher training college and schools are steeped in sanction/reward systems that are pathological at their foundation. There are no healthy human relationships based on a mixture of kindness and punishment/threat. Indeed, classrooms are more orderly and better learning environments when there are no sanctions and this is a method I have tried in failing schools to great success. Students need love, they will accept boundaries from someone who loves them, especially when the reason for the boundary is clear. Children and youth need great role models, great parental figures they can trust and respect more than they need to remember the Tudors or their times tables.
Thus, the biggest challenge in teaching today for the young NQT especially, is remembering what it is like to be the student and pushing back against opinions that dehumanize the child. What adults would find difficult, so do children, but more so because they have less life experience and less self-control. To feel powerless and unloved is truly a torture to the mind, one that contributes to suicide and self-harm.
In terms of employment, there are more jobs than good candidates; in terms of working conditions, the real challenge is how to bring about the institutional changes needed so that children have the right to really express their feelings, be heard and have self-determination/empowerment. It is how to show other teachers that the behaviour is not the child, but an indicator of what is happening in their life and how the child feels. You will be instructed to bully children and use fear tactics, standing up to such things is difficult when you lack authority. Above all, teaching is a profession for fully mature adults, ones who can hear the chaos of a troubled child, weather the storms of that child and see the behaviour as a symptom of the pain inside of them and never as a mark of a “bad child.” You can be a fully mature adult at 18 and still psychologically immature at 81. If you want a meaningful life, a true battle to save children from lives lacking in enough love, teach – and teach in deprived areas, teach in troubled schools, live your mission, be a social warrior.
Learn basic psychology, counselling skills, basic brain functioning and deploy empathy and you will make a profound difference. The youth I talk to feel despondent that their best teachers are quitting, they ask “Why do all the best ones leave?” This a tough job for the idealist, but know that the idealist with a big open heart is exactly what’s needed. My advice for educational trail blazers is – be alive in the classroom, be real, advocate for students with senior management, keep your head down in the staffroom, resist child-blaming staff conversations and rest as much as possible. For a warm person with the grit to stay, the opportunities from a personal development and career perspective are huge. I have never found the students to be an issue regardless of social status, but the demand for data-production and pleasing OFSTED is huge and stress-creating.
The opportunities as a creative writer are somewhat tougher, you have to build your own platform and following before a publishing house is likely to take you on as an author. That said, a true writer is an artist and art is a passion which heals the self and others. If you have a drive, a calling, a duty, a need to write, then you will be successful in time. Be patient, keep going, be deaf to nay-sayers. I was told by plenty of people that Descriptionari wouldn’t work, and even to wipe the website of content and sell it as a blank platform.
I advise young writers to choose a secondary career that they believe in, want to do, and still leaves them enough time to write – such as on-call nursing, teaching etc. The artist absolutely must lead a cohesive life that allows them to be their authentic self as a nurturer. To “sell out” is an injury to the self. To value your heart and soul more than financial incentive is wise and a protection against “mid-life crisis” in years to come. That said, do look after yourself financially – a roof, food and paying the bills is important for you and those you love.
4.Do you have any advice you can give to the current graduate market in your field/entreprenurship?
Be guided by your heart and soul. Keep learning. Do things that develop your emotional intelligence; resist the poisonous ideas of those who advocate “tough love,” dehumanize others or mock care of the environment or animals. Have the courage to be yourself and follow your own ideas; herd thinking is a deafness to the world and the pain of others. Standing out comes at an initial price, but if you pay it rather than return to mediocrity, you will one day realize that you became a leader without trying to be one. True leaders are their authentic selves – warm, self-assured and passionate about making life better for everyone.
5.Do you have any tips for students studying in your area of expertise?
Question everything. Listen, but evaluate ideas yourself. When working with youth it is vital that we do what is best for them with an authentic warmth and presence, resisting harsh, judgemental out-dated attitudes. A child will cause trouble in direct proportion to the pain inside of them and we need to keep in mind that the behaviour is an SOS, the most honest cry for help they can make.
I recommend reading and watching videos of Dr Gabor Mate. Listen to Mooji on YouTube – learn how to centre yourself so that you can be calm when the child needs emotional help. I recommend learning basic brain functioning and what defensive mechanisms in children look like; I began with the work of Michael McKnight on LinkedIn. Learn about anxiety. Know that “anger is bodyguard of sadness.” Above all, evaluate yourself and still be kind to yourself; learn from your mistakes, listen to your inner voice and keep on fighting the good fight. It is better to rest and return than to leave the battlefield.
6.Any final words/inspirations for students and graduates in relation to the world of work?
Age, as afore mentioned, is no marker of wisdom. There are many psychologically immature adults who will never develop past “emotional childhood” – they lack flexibility, creativity and emotional robustness. They will have humour with adults and a “war mentality” in their interactions with youth. You will have bosses who have never learned how to put their own ego aside and listen, or place the interest of the child above their own. I have always found children and youth to be very honest in their communication of needs, trust them, listen, keep your heart open. When you are tired, rest. When you are frustrated, seek nature and quiet, music, exercise – let the stress go. Model the behaviour you seek, all animals are hard-wired to observe, imitate, practice, master – so, living our creeds is the only way to teach, challenging though that is. We need to make child suicide and self-harm a thing of the past, like child chimney sweeps. Welcome to the battle.
Angela’s words offer hope and belief in a way that inspire others to not give up on their dreams and aspirations. She emphasises the importance of self-control and feeling loved and explains that it is not just children that find it hard but adults too. “What adults would find difficult, so do children, but more so because they have less life experience and less self-control. To feel powerless and unloved is truly a torture to the mind, one that contributes to suicide and self-harm. “Angela’s context and understanding of the world is incomparable…
If you would like to know more about Angela and follow what she does then please visit her website: www.descriptionari.com
Be sure to check out her other work too: https://mbdgroup.com/catalogue/ . (Science All Around, page 12)
As Angela Abraham quotes:
“Evaluate yourself and still be kind to yourself; learn from your mistakes, listen to your inner voice and keep on fighting the good fight. It is better to rest and return than to leave the battlefield…”
Interviewed by Gemma Smith