Another Student, Similar Vision or Lack Thereof. Matt Belin in Iowa. Photographer, Chris Coudron
© copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert
He was young, relatively speaking, and old, so old, he had already given up on his future. Nevertheless, the flame flickered brightly as he shared what he wished it would be with me. He stood close. He was turning in his project. He was not the first to complete his work. Actually, he was among the last. The students had been working on this assignment for days. It was due in ten minutes. Work not turned in on time, would be considered late. Grades could drop. Yet, that was not his deepest concern. In that moment, he worried about my future.
This gentle man was housed within a class that had been a thorn in their teacher’s side. I was sitting in for the regular classroom Instructor on that day, the last day to complete the project. During this final workday, students had an opportunity to dream. If the work was done, they could watch a video, an adventure film, and immerse them selves in a world of fantasy. If the task was not yet finished, work, work, work would be the agenda. However, the Teacher had said to me, that once most were done, the video could be played. The others would be required to continue their endeavor while the hum was heard in the background.
In this group, none of the options was appreciated. They wanted to walk, to talk, and to play; however, this was not in my plan. Commotion is not my vision for a classroom. Nor was chaos what I needed.
I wanted quiet order. I stated this aloud before class began. For me, active, productive, and creative minds are as I crave. I give pupils the time and space to flow, to self-actualize, as Social Scientists’ might say. they can gel in the inner sanctums of their minds. I shared with the students, though they personally may not wish to excel, there are those that do. I want to ensure that they can. In harmony, the class grumbled.
This crowd voiced no desire to shine. Should one exist, it was well hidden.
Since these students were not ones I had a lasting relationship with, I felt that I had very little time to influence what was in their minds. I could only guide behaviors and introduce possibilities.
It was the last period of the day. As the movie played, I quietly did my own work. I brought my power-book from home. I watched the pupils, not the pulp-fiction, as I typed away. I did interact, though there was little to interact with. Some students were, finally, working. Others were indeed viewing. The room, at last was void of noise, with the exception of the sounds coming from the screen. Time passed and then it occurred.
The period was coming to a close. Learners turned their projects in slowly yet surely.
He approached. He handed me his papers and I offered my thanks. He stayed close for a while and then said, “I like your computer.” His words did not seem as envy, as much as understanding. I told him of how I had wanted this laptop for more than a decade. I could not spend the money, or would not. Then circumstances demanded the purchase. A long distance move had necessitated and my arrival in town after a tumultuous storm had postponed the possibility of my move into a home I purchased months earlier. I took up occupancy in a hotel and would reside there for two and one-half months. My life was in boxes, in storage. Me, without a computer to meet my daily needs was unthinkable, not do-able.
He said that he could relate. We chatted. I shared my dream and why the workstation seemed a must to me. I told him of my passion for writing and my dream to do this exclusively. I shared my fears. He smiled. Apparently, he had the same. He told me of how his words could and did bring readers to tears. He had scored among the best in the writing portion of the Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test [FCAT.] I asked; what was he planning to pursue in college to make his dream come true.
He responded quickly, with little thought. He had already thoroughly assessed this decision. He said, “I am not college material.” He continued, “Possibly, I will to attend the community college and learn a trade.” Then shyly he added, “I may work for the school newspaper. I would like to do some sports writing . . . and maybe more.”
Not college material? I expressed my doubt of that. There was a quizzical look; it disappeared. He became animated though still certain that furthering his education was not in the plans. His eyes lit the room. His skin sparkled. His voice reverberated. He began to tell me how much he loved to read. He was working on a paper for one of his classes. He researched much. He was writing on the career of J.K. Rowlings’. He recounted her life story, in depth and detail. He spoke of the hard times she faced, her divorce, her children, and that she had been on welfare, all the time working on her books. He was joyous for her success. He read each of her books.
He continued discussing her trials, tribulations, and tales. The rejection she received, her perseverance, and his thrill that she thrived. He was living her life as he told her story. This sweet man was absorbed in his loves, his reading, and his writing. Yet, he had no hopes, or at least he was told by some older and wiser adults not to.
I was sad and happy. I attempted to encourage him. The irony is, earlier, he was cheering me on, telling me to believe in my dream and myself. He wanted me to pursue my passion; perhaps he wanted this for each of us. He and I were together, fearful, while willing and wanting to take on the world. However, we both had been wounded by the words of others. What people had said to us then and now advanced our uncertainties, quelled, or delayed our desires. Those doubting statements were once or twice said to us; now, they were the ones we told ourselves.
“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”– ~ James Langston Hughes
References for shared realities . . .
- Student: from ‘not college material’ to successful scholar Iowa State University of Science and Technology. February 20, 2006
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Educational Psychology Interactive.
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs From Wikipedia
- Getting Past Fear
- Best California Students not College Material Pacific Research Institute. March 26, 2004
- College Material, By Ned Hallowell, M.D., ADDitude Magazine
- Get Out! You’re Not College Material By Joyce, Ph.D. Krudsen