When I was a kid I wanted to leave Kentucky and travel the world to experience different cultures. This was largely influenced by my biggest role model – Indiana Jones. What a cool job! I had this amazing dream that I could grow up and have a job that explored the world. Better yet, Indiana Jones was a teacher and could spend the days talking about what he loved the most to students and anyone else who would listen – archaeology.
I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I even went as far and took a videotaped episode of Young Indiana Jones into Super Cuts to play for the barber so that I could have Indiana’s haircut. My year book is funny with comments from my friends saying “Great Indiana haircut” and “good luck Indiana Jones”. I was happy, yet, I was craving for experiences, attention and recognition but my enthusiasm and passion went unheard.
Recently a friend posted an obituary about our high school academic counselor and many people replied with good memories about how he had worked with them in preparing for university. However, I could not reply, I don’t remember him and I am sure he was a good guy but no one at school ever spoke to me about what I wanted to be as an adult, let alone how to get to university. The only one interested in me was the military (who phoned me on a weekly basis) , which I respect but it became clear to me that my social economic bracket pinned me to a military career.
Luckily, I pressed forward and have achieved most of my dreams, especially emulating Indiana Jones. I have traveled the world, had many fantastic adventures and became a teacher. Despite this, I do wonder sometimes where I would be today if people had looked past my parents’ income and saw an excited boy hungry to learn. To see potential and have guided and mentored me in those earlier days. I can easily say I would still be a teacher but maybe one not as bitter.
However, my drive I believe is a result of being ignored and it has lit a fire in me to ensure that the underdogs in life are given a fair shot. We need to listen to our students and find what makes them click so to help them see the bigger picture. I want my students to be excited for learning and strive to reach their potential but this does not happen with merely words, it’s about actions. It’s about us building positive relationships with students, providing a curriculum that allows them to explore their talents and interests, and facilitate memorable experiences.
If we are to close the gap we need to have the student at the heart and allow anyone to chase their dreams even if it’s based after a fictional character.