Thursday, June 16, 2011

The First Grader

I don't know how much I talk about this on here, but I really love "National Geographic." I can't wait until my magazine comes in the mail, and I watch that channel, and I go on their website all the time (although I really wish it didn't have so many pop ups). Anyway, you can imagine my excitement when I found out "National Geographic" was the producer of The First Grader. I knew that no one would want to go to this movie with me because everyone starts groaning when I go on too long about my geography nerdiness. Plus, they didn't run this movie in every theater, so I had to drive about twenty minutes to get to a theater that was showing it. For that reason, I went to this movie by myself this afternoon. I really loved it. It was totally worth the drive.

The story is set in Kenya and it is about an eighty-four year old man who wanted to take advantage of the first time Kenya offered free public education. He attends primary school with all the children because he wanted to learn to read. It's actually based on a true story. I think if you are a teacher you will enjoy this movie. You know, I cried when a third grader came to my classroom who couldn't read. I can't imagine what it would mean to go your whole life without that.

The other thing that I got from the movie is that it must be pretty incredible to teach somewhere where people have gratitude for education. I love my country. A lot of people out there hate on the U.S., but as much as I love learning about other countries and customs this is the only place I want to live. However, as much as I love my country, I think that when it comes to education Americans (particularly my generation and the one just behind us) are exceedingly spoiled. There is this attitude that every American citizen is owed a proper education and that as long as we sit our butts in the chairs at the schools it should happen. The truth is that you have to want to learn and you have to try to learn. As a teacher here, I spend a lot of my time trying to get students to buy into that idea. In this movie, I don't honestly know if this is the way it actually happened, the Kenyan children were running to the school lining up to get the spots in the schools. I can't help but wonder how it would be to teach where the majority of students see education as such a valuable opportunity. Of course, I do get some students who are like that. When I can get a class that has quite a few it makes teaching an absolute pleasure because peer pressure can help me work with the few who don't seem to care. I find that generally, however, I get a lot of students who don't care about school and spend a lot of my time and energy trying to cajole them into caring.

That's one wish that I have for my country: that we would realize what a gift education for all is.

1 comment:

KD said...

I haven't seen the film, but I read a synopsis.

I think the fact that the man made an active choice to seek education , and that what I understand education was not accessible to all, makes one have a different value system.

In the US we start giving our kids educational toys at a very young age. Some parents put their kids in all day preschool as young as three. Are some kids simply burnt out? While the 85 year old man has a choice, the three year old has no choice.

Do we ask kids why they don't care?

I expect my kids to do well in school. However, when I see a language arts and social studies curriculum that seems to be sanitized by political correctness so that it is utterly unappealing to boys...I'm not sure that I would care if I were my son. My son has been in school for four years, and the only accomplished male they have learned about is Cesar Chavez.

I'm not saying every school is like that..but ours is.