17 April 2010

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite

I can't explain how incredible it is to watch a student reach his potential right in front of you. Today one of my darlings starred in the school musical, earned a standing ovation, and still shuffled backstage to accept his hug from me while mumbling that he messed up his final lines. Students like this one both warm and break my heart: his growth is impressive to observe, and yet I doubt he realizes how wonderful he is. This is the type of kid who always says hello to me in the halls and welcomes me with a genuine smile. He spends hours trying to improve his schoolwork, never complaining about the fact that many others earn stellar grades while giving only a cursory glance at the material. Never seeking to boost his own pride while denigrating others', he offers kind words to every student and is an approachable presence, even to the youngest students. He has also taken an impressive risk here: this is the first time he's sung in public, and some of his more boorish friends don't exactly consider musical theater to be something worthy of their praise. Instead, he risks mockery, something that in high school (or even later) can be devastating. If I could write this student a letter that he could take out and look at every time he doubted his gifts, I would assure him that he is one of the lucky ones-- he has what so many people lack, a balance of empathy, charisma, humor, intellect, sensitivity, and sheer originality. From the beginning of the year to now, he has already pushed himself to such an impressive degree that even though I don't teach him, I just look at him and want him to know this:
If every one of my darlings could realize his or her infinite wonder...then my life would be one step closer to being complete.

1 comment:

tess said...

sorry I've been behind on posts (for a day, it appeared your wonderful blog was offline and I spazzed out because you write some beautiful prose that gets me really thinking, so glad to see you're still around and thought provoking as ever!) these last two are wonderful

first, this post really shows how rewarding teaching can be. I know you've had some problem students, but this one kid must make up for everything. It is unfortunate how nice kids with a drive to do well don't get acknowledged by their peers, but rather only by adults. Sadly, a lot of the age group you're teaching is too obsessed with popularity to care about trying new things or doing well in school, but clearly you truly do have a special kid right here. I'm happy for you!

and boy, can I relate to your previous post. You've Got Mail has been my favorite movie since age 10, I can practically recite every line. it just becomes more real and true each year as I grow up more, which as you were mentioning with meta narratives is ironic in itself. True fiction does have a power to transport us and stick with us so that daily things in our lives do remind us of a great book or movie. But I believe it can become too much when you find yourself never relating things back to your own life and only to books/films. Sometimes I believe art and life get overly muddled and sometimes I cannot tell if my life is my life or reflecting a movie....oh dear, this comment is getting very/scarily postmodern haha