“to attack where a person is vulnerable”
Last night at the Bruyns household, a relatively unusual thing happened. Three of us sat down to watch the same movie, in the same room. Unfortunately with four televisions and three computers, most of our viewing is done in separate rooms with separate interests. But, in honour of Earth Day (following our hour long walk during the prescribed time slot), we wanted to further our contribution. So we decided one TV could go on and the lights would have to stay off. Now came the tricky part ~ deciding on something that we would all enjoy. After 20 minutes of cruising through numerous channels, we decided to rent “The Blind Side”. I must admit that I was less than excited about watching a football movie. But all of that changed as the true story of Michael Oher came to life. Yes, the football parts kept the guys entertained, but it was story of Michael’s educational journey that I found inspiring.
This young man was granted admission to a private school, based on his athletic ability in the hope that he would made a difference to their football program. But before he could play football, he needed to prove himself as a student. The faculty was less than pleased that this boy had been granted admission as his written performance was poor at best. It was the compassion of his science teacher, who took the time to realize that he knew the material orally, that made a difference. She shared that strategy with other faculty members and soon Michael saw himself as a learner. In that scene, it reminded me what all good teachers do. We do whatever it takes to give our students opportunities to share their knowledge.
As the story progressed and college football became a possibility, more intense instruction was needed. The family hired a tutor who worked relentlessly with him. At one point in the story, Michael becomes frustrated and shares that “I can’t do it!” The tutor, Miss Sue, quickly jumps in with, “You can’t do it, yet! But some day you will be able to do it!” What a powerful statement to share with a student. It gives them hope and we all need that!
As time drew closer to the final assessment for the year, Michael needed to write an English paper, the one subject where he was still generating Ds. His “father” retold the story of how he enjoyed the poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson. His father’s passion for the poem and his ability to connect with the details inspired Michael to write a paper that garnered him the necessary mark to graduate.
This is an example of how we need to engage our students in their learning. Telling them how something affects us or inspires us is so important.
In the end, I guess I was the one who was “blind-sided” by the movie. I was hit (in an emotional way) where I am most vulnerable ~ my passion for education and how we in education can truly make a difference.