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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wisdom Earned Through Lessons Learned (WORLD PREMIERE)

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As educators, we are often guilty of trying to teach lessons we have not yet learned well enough.

On one fateful afternoon in February 2005, I was reminded that to experience is to learn once, but to teach is to learn twice.

The pictures tell the story of a boys' mentoring group a colleague and I started in October 2004. We would periodically challenge the boys to teach each other lessons that they were responsible for preparing. On one Saturday, one of the young men taught me how to play chess. His lesson was one of the single most brilliant recollections of my career as an educator.

On this day in February 2005, a student was to teach on The Legend of Willie Lynch. He did not prepare for his lesson on this racially charged matter, and proceeded to "fake it" in a rather inflammatory manner. We had invited our principal to witness our meeting that day.

My colleague then jumped in to "clean up" the lesson, and probably made things just a bit worse.

During and after that moment I realized the irrevocable damage we could do to the minds we care so much about developing when we expose them to light that we ourselves have not yet seen.

I photographed the entire event, even though I felt like I was documenting my own funeral. We survived that day, though, and were made better for having learned the hard lesson.

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