Unsullied Wings

February 13, 2023- After listening to and watching the Teacher Intern explain the process of adding mixed numbers with unlike denominators, the young boy took off and completed the assignment, accurately and in full, before the instructor had gone through the exercise, one problem at a time. I looked at the child’s work and found it had been done, according to process, with all work shown and answers circled as per instructions. The instructor accepted the work and the student went around helping others.

Another student seemed to understand the concept from a different angle, so in working with him, I followed what seemed to make the most sense from his perspective, and we arrived at the same correct answer, just taking a few extra steps. This fluidity of process would have made things a lot easier, back in the day, had my own teachers seen fit to employ it. Education is moving, ever so slowly, past the notion that one size fits all.

The rest of my day was spent alongside a young disabled girl, who was largely independent, save for her physical disability. In one class, the focus was on how to use a device similar to the one she uses. The child was more than glad to help the instructors show able bodied children how to use the device, in races and in dribbling a basketball-similar to the situation shown in the film, “Inside Moves”. I also let her use her own discernment in wearing her coat, a fact that was much appreciated by her father, when I brought her down to their vehicle, at dismissal time. He is raising her to be fiercely independent, when the temptation to coddle and cosset may well be rather strong. As it happened, our Arizona weather featured, by turns, light snow and bright sunshine. It was the sunshine that accompanied us from classroom to parking lot-which made her able to shed the coat.

Being able to listen and honour a person’s essential individual judgement, within the bounds of safety and good sense, is one of the skills that will save the rising generations, in terms of not only dignity and self-respect, but also the skills needed to face swiftly changing circumstances. Affirmation, when it is merited, saves gobs of second-guessing.

It is ours, thankfully, to help keep the wings of empowerment unsullied.

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