Randall, where is your pencil? When my oldest son was in the first grade, he was frequently not prepared for writing assignments. It was actually a simple problem. He could not keep up with his pencil. He had a seasoned teacher that year. I think she recognized that he really was bright, but she noticed that his mind was often in a world far removed from the daily rigors of the first grade.
By the time he reached the fourth grade, writing assignments were longer. The teacher expected some degree of neatness. On the days he could keep up with his pen, it sat idle on his desk. His teacher would catch him daydreaming. His mother constantly stayed on him, but he made it clear that he HATED writing! And neatness was of course out of the question.
Today Randall is a professional writer. You might call him a starving artist. He writes for a website in order to keep groceries on the table and a roof above his head. He is actually attempting to break into the film industry as a screen writer. Such an endeavor requires a level of patience and tenacity that I do not possess.
This week was a professional turning point. He has been hired along with two writing partners to write a movie script. It is the real deal. He is getting paid to use his creative energies. I should say: he is getting paid to daydream. When he called to share the news I was tempted to tell him to keep with his pencil, but I refrained.
Randall’s life experience provides a learning curve for those of us that teach, instruct, or mentor others. Don’t make premature assumptions about a student. Refuse to consider them as failures, even if all the evidence points in that direction. Invest in your students. Believe in their capacity to excel.
After failing miserably in delivering a speech in the 7th grade, I concluded that public speaking was not going to be in my professional future. 40 years later I do public speaking several times a week. Randall could not find his pencil in the first grade and hated writing in the 4th grade. But I am assuming his teachers never told him that was destined for failure. Today I am grateful for teachers that refused to make premature assumptions about my son. He really is bright. And I am proud of him.