I know that given the education humdrum Stateside for the past few months, and the ensuing train wreck of the English education system, it might seem a patronising to suggest teachers might just take a moment to pause and reflect on what it is they do have, what they can be grateful for.
But when I returned from South Africa a couple of weeks ago, I had some video I had shot in a school on my first morning out and about. My suitcase was lost in transit, with the microphone, so the audio's not great, but the day-to-day struggles of Principal Juan Julius at Hout Bay High School, the struggle to provide his students the best education he and his staff feel they deserve, are enough to make compelling viewing this Thanksgiving:
We have a feeding scheme in the school. During the break I have to go up to the kitchen and assist the lady there, dishing and serving plates of food so that they can concentrate in class.
I think sometimes the father-mother figure must come stronger than the teacher figure in this school environment. Because when you show love and you give love and show you understand their problems -- not that you say "yes I understand", but that you really sit down and listen and you grapple with the problems that they experience and you come up with actual solutions... It's so complicated.
Most teachers are just not interested in that. They're interested in the new house, a bigger house, the money in the bank, the nice house, nice clothes, the overseas trip, whatever.
I can't say that.
I had a holiday last in Scotland and that was more than 27 years back, because my money is not my money any more. My money, and my family's money, is the students' money. And that means a lot to me.
We really, really make a difference. Everywhere else, it's about money, having enough money. If you need something you go and buy it. But here, we appreciate what you have and look after it. The little bit we have we plough back into the community.
Food for thought the next time we concern ourselves with one less interactive whiteboard than we wished, or a laptop that takes too long to get repaired. Happy Thanksgiving.
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