The greatest application in my professional life for the knowledge and skills I gained in this course will be the consideration of cultural indicators beyond race and ethnicity. In our society today, we become easily embroiled, still, in issues regarding race, ethnicity, and religion, but there are inequities of other kinds and students who need champions in order to ensure their free and appropriate public education.
In the current climate built around the mania of standardized testing, children who have no choice but to live at the fringes of our society are increasingly marginalized in favor of high performers who can consume and regurgitate material in pat formulae and demonstrate their ability to follow the rules, the leaders, the instructions, etc. Children who can sit still, read well, write serviceably, and remember what they are told for the necessary duration are increasingly becoming the darlings in a world ruled by the almighty test score. Their fate is assured since colleges and universities, for the most part, reward these same children with acceptance, funding, and eventually, degrees.
The only problem with this scenario is the inevitable stagnation of our society. Without the child who has a subpar intelligence quotient but the ability to draw anything she sees and then draw endless manipulations of that character, we would not have animators, cartoonists, and illustrators who give imagery to our world and give us the stories that make life interesting, amusing, and colorful. Without the dyslexic child who thinks outside the box as a result of having to learn a completely distinct way to deal with the world around him, we wouldn’t have a theory of relativity, electromagnetic induction, or IKEA. Without the gifted child who has so many channels going on in his brain that he cannot shut off the noise long enough to sit still for a lecture or test, we would have no iPhone, no NASA, no Windows, no wireless technology, no innovation, no invention, and no discovery.
Until we build an education system in which every child is appreciated for who he or she is, understood at the very level at which he or she was designed by God or nature or what have you, and taught from the level of his or her greatest ability to the level of his or her highest potential, we will have a broken system in which those students who do not fit the mold by virtue of color, talent, intellect, race, age, nationality, language, belief, sexual orientation…those students will be pushed aside in favor of the middle-of-the-road, and we, as a nation, will be poorer for it.
I learned in this class that, as an educational leader, it is my job to be those children’s champion. To stand up for the right of the poorest child to get the interventions he or she needs in order to have the same shot at success as the richest. It is my job to champion the gifted and the disabled and those who straddle both those fences and live at the risk of being ignored by the champions of each. It is my job to teach equity to adults who, perhaps, should know better, but who have not had a life-altering experience to jar them from the comfort of the cultural cocoon into which they were born and within which they were raised.
I have learned that one can learn these lessons from a well-made film that is older than I am. I have learned that these lessons can be reinforced by reflecting on our relationships and on the moments in our lives that make or break them. I have learned that we are all on a cultural journey, and while some people may take only baby steps along the path despite a lifetime of experience, we, as educational leaders in this freedom-loving nation's public schools, must take the greatest strides so that we stand as testimony to the fact that all men and women are created equal and deserve the same opportunity to learn, to grow, and to succeed.