SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Monday, January 24, 2011

A story helps us...

This is a small childhood incident, but its impact is felt by me even today. The purpose of this incident is served today as I choose to tell my daughter the same anecdote when she faces a similar situation...hoping that the learning I did not gain, she does get...

I was in 7th standard, and my language skills were average and nothing very significant. B grade student. In my mind I was being compared to my sister who was 2 classes senior to me, and a more creative and talented writer according to the general feedback from teachers.

There was this one story completion exercise that I did for a creative writing essay, for which the teacher gave me an A grade( my first). I was ecstatic. Yet the teacher when handing over my book said: " I hope this is your original work and you have not copied it"

The impact of this was multi fold:
I could never write again without feeling I am copying some one else's' idea...
Original and creative took a different meaning, as I thought being original was this magical land where I could/would never get entry...
I decided I was a poor writer...
I would always confess I could not write and ask people to go to my sister for any such help...

A small event but a large impact...

My daughter wants to be selected for an elocution contest,for which she has prepared well; she even presented it to the teacher...
Yet she is not given the opportunity to perform because:
The other student is more experienced
There is no time to coach my daughter (the teacher has no time to work on my daughter's delivery...they want a processed, ready to serve meal...we are in times of Fast Food...)
My daughter's other imperfections cloud their decision making...

She came to me with tears...

I thought of my incident immediately...and how I had let a simple statement of that English teacher impact me for life...yet find myself writing and expressing myself in written form prolifically now...

Interest and Intent is not valued nowadays...as I have said before
Performance and perfection is all pervasive..

Yet there is a readiness in my daughter, a willingness to learn and do, that is not being appreciated. Words are used woundingly and unthinkingly on children...

I assured her, that the teacher is making a value based judgement, and is also biased by a lack of vision. She needed to go back to her and present herself again as a keen and interested speaker, and if not this time, get a promise that the next time she would be given a chance...
I told her my incident and how I had allowed those words to erode my confidence, yet it need not be the case with her...

So typical of her; she in turn told me a story...
... of a king who is looking for a sculptor to do a grand job for his palace, 2 sculptors approach him. The king looks at them, one is well dressed and well kept, while the other has straggly hair, and deep/ dark eyes. He decides to go for the neat guy...only to find his work is very slipshod and uninspiring. When he visits the other sculptors workshop, he sees some wonderful murals and art work...The king realises that appearances can be deceptive, and only when we give a chance and encourage ourselves to see positive in the other person, can we truly understand the true nature of things....( similar to don't judge a book by its cover!!)

( This is a story she has read, and not told by me)

My wonderful girl has learnt an important lesson yesterday, and I hope she is talking and marketing herself today in school as I write this, without letting another's judgement undermine her confidence...

I will know when she gets back...