Tuesday, 17 May 2016

On the way to school

I saw this fantastic documentary the other night.  I turned it on because I couldn't sleep, but then I couldn't sleep because I was so caught up.

The film follows for children (about 11 years old) who, in order to get to school, must travel anywhere between 2 and 4 hours each way.  Each journey is done on their own, or with a younger sibling.  Each must walk through African desert, or Moroccan mountains, or from a remote South American outpost, or a far away Indian hut.  Two young brothers no more than 6 or 7 pulled a makeshift wheelchair holding their older brother, trudging through sand and mud and rivers.  A girl waited for someone to let her hitch a ride for the last leg of her journey.

I was struck to the core about how precious education was to these children and their families.  That their parents would send out their children, so young, all alone, through a long, unmarked and dangerous journey every single day.  That the student so valued going to school that there were no complaints about the rocky paths or charging herd of elephants.  There was little more going on in the film that simply watching the long walk on the way to school; it provided a ripe endroit for pondering.

How much we take school for granted here, as students and as teachers.  By the end of the film my heart was as full of passion as my eyes of tears.  I cried out to no one (to my future students, a plea!) "Learn and dream and learn and dream and learn and dream then go and do something!"

These four children were asked why they went to school, and each dreamed of beautiful ways to change the world.  I thought about myself becoming a teacher, and I admonished myself sternly.  "Do not ever, ever, simply "phone it in."  Look what education can do! I am not worthy of the position if I take it for granted.  Do not think that I must fill empty heads with my own pride, but instead I must inspire them to find what it is they are meant to do in this world.

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