Like half (probably more) of the population of Australia, I am in love with Samuel Johnson. He appeared in my life when I was a teenager and entertained me with a long line of quirky and lovable characters.
But last week, during his Gold Logie acceptance speech, the reason that I love Samuel Johnson was expressed in his heartfelt and genuine words.
It was a fairly muddled ten minutes of Australian television. And the message in Samuel’s speech was overshadowed by the media comments and opinions that followed. But, for this mum, teacher and advocate for the Arts, his message rang loud and clear.
“I was a very spirited, very confused kid. With a colourful background and fairly savage amount of energy. I was an outlier of sorts, just desperate to find my place in this world and I found my home here in the Arts. A place that celebrated difference.”
Samuel was the kid that I see everyday. In the playground, in my classroom and in my house. A kid that is different, quirky, unique, creative and doesn’t quite fit the mould. Spirited, energetic and colourful. But also confused, an outlier and desperate to find their place in the world. You see, our aussie society celebrates the sporty kid, the kid that fits in, the kid that does well on their NAPLAN tests and the kid that sits in his desk and does what he’s told. Our society does not celebrate the quirky kid who thinks outside the square, the kid who daydreams and hums a new melody rather than answering Maths questions or kicking around a soccer ball. And it breaks my heart that these kids think that they shouldn’t be like they are.
And this is why it is so important that Samuel’s message gets out there.
"I found my home here in the Arts. A place that celebrated difference."
Cause you see, in the Arts, you can be whoever you want to be. You can stand out, you can be unconventional and most of all, you don’t have to try and fit the mould to be accepted…..You have to try and break it!
So thank you Samuel Johnson for reminding us how important it is for us to create schools, homes and a society where difference is admired. Where our kids don’t have to fit in and the fact that their unique and eccentric ways are what sets them apart, is celebrated.
Thank you for reminding us that the Arts is not just an extracurricular activity.
For some, it’s home.