“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
“Why show him the world when he’s never going to leave the ghetto? Because, she would say, even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I’ve done enough.”
-Trevor Noah, Born a Crime
At this point in the story, Trevor Noah’s mother using every free minute to show her son parts of their region that is different from the ghetto in which they reside. They go to rich neighborhoods, parks, monuments – anything that’s different from the depressing condition they’ve been forced into.
This is an incredibly important point when working with students from poor backgrounds. You can try to instill all the good work habits and provide all sorts of inspiration, but until they see for themselves that there is a world outside of their bubble and that hard work and dedication can help them be a part of that world, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
I can completely empathize with a student who doesn’t want to put forth effort because he doesn’t see that education getting him anywhere in the world that he knows. And he’s right, it probably won’t.
But if you could only open his eyes to the fact that there is a limitless world of potential beyond the one that he knows, and that the hard work and dedication he perceives as fruitless, are actually the keys to this future – then you begin to build the motivation from within that’s necessary to emerge from desperate situations.
Is it as simple as driving these types of students to rich neighborhoods? Probably not. It’s probably a tireless process of exposing them to as much outside of their world as possible and hoping something sticks. This will be made a priority with my future students.
I was unsuccessful in opening my most recent student’s eyes to these possibilities. He refused to see his future anywhere but in the neighborhoods he’s always roamed. Now there’s a good chance they’ll be the only ones he ever roams.