The power of the personal narrative is strong as evidenced by posts from colleagues such as Shannon Smith and Chris Wjer. Both blogs give open access to feelings of disappointments, broken dreams and the strength to find your own set of beliefs. As educators we must embrace this message, and find our way through a system strewn with standards, competitions, and races that exclude and make judgments, despite all rhetoric and research to disprove this approach.
And we need to value differences and change, and give our students a chance to make their opinions about their world, and what it is they want to do with it, heard.
One such student was my son, who breezed through high school with his gaggle of friends, who I called the Lost Boys. There were bright, articulate and totally disengaged for four years. In a French Immersion academic program, he played the game well enough to get admitted to university. (Disclaimer, I filled out his application form). As a teacher, and an academic learner, I assumed all was going according to (MY) plan.
But this was the boy who told me in Kindergarten he wasn’t going to the “grades”. And he literally didn’t. First day Grade 1 was a mess.
Robert knew what he wanted to do, unlike many of his friends. He started working as a carpenter, did the go west young man thing, thankfully came home in one piece (!) and entered an apprentice program. Today he is a licensed carpenter and owns his first fixer-upper in a neighbourhood on the move. He is 23.
What this child has taught me is to see others through their own lens, and do what I can to enable that path, not the one that works for me.
If I can do that for other children, then I will be doing what I love to do.