A monthly column on purpose, passion and power in Jesus.
As school reopens for many this week I’m reminded of my time in school.
One year, as school was about to reopen, I broke out in terrible sores all over my hands and arms. My parents tried everything they could to help me — nothing worked.
Eventually after spending a little time with us a nurse we knew told my parents: “Your daughter is terrified of going back to school.”
My parents did the best they could to medicate me — eventually my skin healed. I went back to school and the nightmare continued till I graduated from high school.
Why I was so afraid? Part of my fear and anxiety about school was the bullying. Part of it was just how lost I was at school.
I struggled through most of my subjects — no matter how I tried I felt I just couldn’t understand the work the way my classmates did. I was labelled an “average” student and throughout my time in school I never managed to break through that label.
For career assessment I was told I wasn’t good enough to pursue any real profession — and was strongly advised to pursue something along the lines of being a cook. (The culinary world wasn’t as revered back then).
Anyway, the long and short of it is it took me years to get over the utter conviction that I wasn’t as smart as most people. To this day it’s something I still struggle with — even though I know better.
I don’t think my parents truly understood how I felt about myself. I was a cheerful kid and had always been a confident speaker. I guess my folks read that as overall confidence? I don’t know.
I think we all accepted I was an “average” student- C’s were as good as it would get with me and that was just that.
We believed the lie that some kids are smart, some just aren’t.
I never thought to share with my parents how hard school was for me. Or how rubbish my self esteem was. My parents adored me — and I guess they thought I was doing the best I could.
I’ve never asked my parents this, but I think, in their minds, showing me unconditional love was to accept the grades I achieved as the best I could manage.
I can’t even begin to say how many opportunities I lost because of this wrong belief. However things began to change when I went to college.
In college I had an English Lecturer called Mrs Levitz, who changed my world. She would have this infectious sparkle in her eyes when she looked over my work — she thought me to be amazing! Through her eyes I began to see myself and my abilities differently.
When I was in school I was told repeatedly that my writing was “sub-standard”. But Mrs Levitz told me the opposite.
She made me feel as though my work was a gift she was honoured to experience in her class.
I’d always loved writing but, through school, I’d come to believe I was absolutely rubbish at it. With Mrs Levitz’s continuous fascination in my work and constant encouragement I began to go after projects I don’t think I would’ve pursued before her.
As my studies with Mrs Levitz were nearing an end I wrote her a letter thanking her for what she’d inspired in me.
How different my education and schooling might’ve been had I met her earlier in my life! But I thank God that she came when she did.
Her teaching was ongoing gusts of powerful wind under my wings that dared me to go where I deserved to fly.
I’ll never forget her input and what it meant to me.
I pray that more educators would truly understand the nature of their calling — that they’re not only imparting knowledge but shaping the destinies of every soul that is in their care.
In my mind teachers are among the greatest of all professions for it’s from their hands that the world gains its power to progress or implode through what is inspired (or broken) in individuals through them.
I believe it’s not merely information or education that has the power to impact lives — it is the educators who share that knowledge. It is them a child depends so heavily on to give meaning — not only to the subject matter they teach, but to unlocking the child’s potential to do incredible things with what they learn.