As school continues I hear more and more of the stories of these students and I am reminded that the students that are in school right now are the ones that were motivated enough to continue. They are the minority. They have many things to fight against, and yet it is evident on their faces that this is a dream. I have watched them with blank stares at a white board covered in numbers and they try to make sense of the process of multiplying polynominals. The concept of a pulley has frustrated even our best student. But they have not quit. We marked one month since the doors of the school have been open and the kids are more motivated now than they were when the school opened. For me I like to see the hope in their eyes as they conquer and learn new concepts, many that they have never heard about before (like photosynthesis).
William Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” and I have to remind myself of this daily as I cover topics that are foreign to their understanding. I have been reminded that medicine heals but is only temporary. We give them hope for now, but many times it does not transcend their future. The idea of an education is something that can be temporary and in this culture, it can change a life forever. In my classroom in the states I had a sign that read, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” And I feel that even more, that is what is being done in the lives of the students who continue their education. Exciting for me, the minds of these students have not been tapped very deep. They may have been challenged, but they have not been questioned, and so as we do more than lecture, read and test from the schoolbooks, our hope is to set these kids up for a future where they will not be trapped where they feel they have few options.
Friday night I set up an outdoor projector against the building and showed the movie “Gifted Hands”. I was hoping to give them a little inspiration as Ben Carson fought many of the same things they fight in their lives. Their response was deeper than I expected as they enjoyed the academic side as well as the story line of the movie. My hope goes beyond teaching a chemical process, organizing plants, or memorizing the structure of DNA. My core wants students to see their potential and actually chase after it instead of just settling for what lies in front of them. My prayer continues for these students as nothing is easy, especially those things that require great sacrifice.
“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
The scientific method at its best! Loving the thumb wars!