Reading an amazing book on loan from Kristie Wilson called The Freedom Writers Diary. It’s probably a familiar story by now, but it’s a compilation of diary entries from a group of high school students in Long Beach, California in the mid-nineties. A student teacher steps up and challenges the kids to become better people than their rough environment normally produces–gangs, violence, teen pregnancies, absent parents. The kids kept diaries throughout their four years in high school, and although they’re obviously heavily edited, it’s amazing the way they relate teacher Erin Gruwell’s “tolerance” themed curriculum to their own personal lives and try to better themselves through the stories of people who are also suffering.
I really just wanted to make note of/share a quote from one of the students who predicted, mid-semester, what his–or her, the entries are fairly anonymous–final grade in the course would be. He predicted an F, due to a rough home life. “Ms. G” pulled him into the hallway. “Do you know what this ‘F’ means to me? It’s Fuck You, Ms. G, and fuck everyone who’s ever cared about you!”
While I completely love the teacher telling her student this, the best part is what the student took away from it.
“What she showed me today is that a truly self-reliant person takes action, leaving nothing to chance and everything to themselves. She showed me that excuses will not bring about success and that adversity is not something you walk with, but something you leap over. The only obstacles are the ones you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it. I want to be a self-reliant person, now and forever.”
I would love to expand on this, make it relate to my own life….but wow. It already does. I guess I need to figure out my weakest link…although as soon as I strengthen that, there will be another weakest link to take its place. I suppose this is what you call a “work in progress.”