My first day of class is always the best. The minds are open and eager to learn. I teach developmental classes at a local right-to-try college offering technical training and medical technician degrees. I love the right-to-try concept in that anyone can attend regardless of whether they successfully completed high school or not.
My students can be anywhere from just out of high school to men and women in their 50s or 60s with kids and families trying to be retrained in a state that has lost too many higher paying manufacturing jobs to low-wage service jobs. Their former jobs are now being done outside the country. By the time the students arrive in my class, they have come to terms with their lost and want to be retrained and provide for their family. They are dedicated and eager to learn.
They also share another common trait. Some educator or family member along the way has done a number on them and convinced them they are stupid and can never learn to read properly or write an acceptable sentence.
The best part of my job is telling them they will learn. I will see to it. You can see the hope shine in their eyes because no one has encouraged their education before. And usually that is all they need along with some work to improve their skills. When they leave my class they are ready to take on the rest of their education and improve their life.
What frustrates me is the stories I hear along the way. The humiliation dished out at the hands of role models or parents. Imagine what these people could have already accomplished if given just a little bit of encouragement instead of negativity? We throw around the word “stupid” like it was candy instead of poison to a struggling soul. What would the world be like if we replaced the scorn with a helping hand, a word of encouragement instead of sarcasm? Could it be that simple?