It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.
Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 - 1855), mathematician and astronomer
A friend and co-worker’s wife is a special education teacher in a part of Los Angeles that I would not drive into unless I absolutely had to because it is not the safest area. I am so impressed by her unselfish and complete caring for her students that I have to share two of her daily journal entries that were kindly shared with me. Thank goodness there are people and teachers like Roxanna.
Journal Entry #7
One day Student X did not do his homework. This was nothing new. In fact, Student X had not done his homework for many days. I sent multiple notes home to the parents. I spoke to Student X's brother. I called his home. I sent notes, I spoke to Student X again, and I spoke to Student X's brothers again. I did everything in my power to help Student X do his homework. But it did not get done.
One day I was finally able to speak with Student X's mother. She had barely braked in front of the school, driving a car that cost three years of my salary. Rather than stop the car, park, and speak, she rolled the window down partway. She did not turn off the motor or the radio. She shouted several things over the radio, including that Student X still had the little pencil I had given him several months ago so he could his homework. But one comment in particular stood out, and made me feel something no teacher should feel: "Mrs. Teacher, my son cannot do his homework because we do not have a pencil sharpener! And, we did not sharpen the pencil you gave us because we cannot fine a sharpener. So he has nothing to write with. You understand."
I did not understand. I did not understand, especially for one very powerful reason: Student X loves schoolwork. When I give him work to do, his face changes, his eyes get big, he smiles, he wants to start immediately. He gets excited when I give homework. He loves to color, draw, and trace. He even loves to help other students with their work. He recognizes the letters in his name, and he loves to trace his name. Whenever he sees the letter that begins his name, he blushes with pride. He acts as if that letter is his and only his. To him, no other name begins with that letter. He acts as if he created that letter and added it to the alphabet!
No, I do not understand. I shouted this over the radio. I also shouted directions to the nearest 99 Cents store, explaining that a person can buy four pencil sharpeners for less than a dollar. I told his mother this. I told her, Student X could use the pencil sharpener in the classroom to sharpen the pencil I gave him three months ago. She had nothing to say, or couldn't hear because of the radio.
So today, I see that letter in the alphabet, and I wonder whose it is. It is an orphan letter. Student X can't have it today; he can't trace it at home, because he does not have a pencil sharpener.
Tomorrow Journal Entry #8