Taking the knee is a protest against the unfair treatment of Black Americans but this has now become a globalised symbol of fighting racism.
This began when an NFL player called Colin Kaepernick who sat on the bench when the US anthem was played on August 26, 2016. He then went on to take the knee.
Unfortunately, taking the knee has been appropriated so that we come to associate it with just one cause but in other parts of life it means something quite different.
You might get down on one knee to propose, you might take one or two knees to pray and if you watch the Game of Thrones, you might associate it with that.
There are others too as John Kelly (2017) points out in his Mashed Radish blog: “Catholics also traditionally take knees – or genuflect – before the altar.”
But there is another version and this involves going onto one knee to take a minute and catch your breath, reset and recalibrate.
The British Army take the knee and when they do they don’t do it politically. This is a technique for staying on top of your emotions, to allow yourself some much needed thinking time and a chance to take stock and plan.
Major General Paul Nanson in his book Stand Up Straight explains more
This saying derives from getting down on one knee and lowering your position to avoid live fire as it zips over your head. Stepping back from the situation, taking a breath and letting the adrenaline dissipate is vital.
In this sense, taking the knee can be a physical act but it doesn’t have to be. This is a moment to think and to stop and take yourself out of a situation that you find challenging.
Taking the knee buys you some time to collect yourself and to make a more informed decision. It’s about thinking rather than rushing right in.
Taking the knee then can be applied to any area of your personal and professional life. For anyone under pressure when things get too much, taking the knee can save you from making rash decisions.
Teachers should mentally take the knee when they find that it is all getting too much or they don’t know what to do next.
It’s a simple but powerful way of gaining perspective and it can kick-start a discussion with students so they learn to see how a saying has more than one meaning and use.