currently still reading John Maxwell’s “Put Your Dream to the Test”. Last night, I read the part where he tells about one time when he asked his friends this question: “If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?” One by one they answered. Then, they threw back the question to John and this is what he said:
“I would teach every child in the world to read.”
At the point of reading this part of the book, I stopped, closed it and read no further. I knew I had to meditate on that fact.
I was a teacher for six years. I taught 1st graders and 3rd graders. They were pretty challenging. But by the time they came to my class, they were already readers, thus, I have never experienced how it is to teach a child to read.
Not until today, DAY ONE of the BLESS Reading Program that we started in our outreach center. I have ten kids in my learning center, all of them eager to attach sound meanings to these figures we call LETTERS. After the first 4-hour class, when all the kids had gone, I sat on my chair and asked: “John Maxwell, is this what you want to do? Seriously?!”
Day ONE and my mind was already filled with things to map out: a disciplinary system, a motivational strategy, a fund-raising idea, a recording system, an accounting system, the parents’ Bible study, step-by-step toilet rules, manners, ..etc..etc..etc… So, John Maxwell, is THIS really want you want to do?
I giggled in the middle of these battling thoughts. Because the truth is, nobody talked me into doing this. Not even John Maxwell.
So, why did I decide to teach kids to read?
When I was little, before I could read, my mother would take out an old cover-less book of fairy tales. She would read to us the stories and my mind would go wild in imagination. From time to time I would look at the page my mother was reading from to see the pictures. But time after time, I would be disappointed; I saw letters after letters – clumped together, or better known to us as WORDS. Just words. No pictures.
That is how I became very eager to read. I wanted to ‘see’ what my mother was seeing. I wanted to unlock these symbols, to see the scenes behind them. I wanted see the pictures drawn by those letters, repeatedly scribbled in the pages like there was some pattern I need to figure out. I was dying to know what they meant.
When I finally learned how to read, there was no stopping. I have always been picking up a book. A friend of mine asked me what if the kids will forget ‘how to read’ and all my efforts would be wasted away. I told her, no one ever unlearns reading.
I picked up John Maxwell’s book again and continued reading. He wrote “ I believe the ability to read can open the door to all other learning and personal growth.”
These kids in my learning center are not guaranteed an easy adult life. No, not even a higher education, no, not a big-shot career. Everywhere they look - in the four corners of their houses, in their flooded backyards, or the ‘mahjongan’ across them – they wouldn’t find a picture of a meaningful life.
But, one of these days, they will pick up a BOOK, unlock the pictures from these written symbols and they will see HOPE. They will decode these figures and find FREEDOM. They will read these red letters and they will find LIFE.
Meanwhile, I get them ready for that moment.
John Maxwell, I’m with you on this one! *wink*
Note: BLESS Program is a 20-week reading program for indigent children.