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Guest Opinion: How do we inspire great students to be great people?

Original post made on Oct 26, 2007

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to the National Merit Scholar semi-finalists at Palo Alto High School. I have had the chance to meet with these scholars many times as a principal, teacher and district official. I am always struck by the extraordinary promise and potential in these students.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Greg Kimura
a resident of Triple El
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:08 am

Thank you for taking on the issue of inspiring greatness rather then just great students. The academic pressure to create great students creates far too many unhappy, stressed out and depressed children in our community. This pressure is mirrored in the absurdly heavy backpacks of our Middle schoolers and the crushing hours of homework our high schoolers must bear each day. We are stealing our children's childhood, and many are more burnt out and depressed than their parents.

The soulless pursuit academic excellence is just another dysfunctional
materialism. It speaks poorly of our values and crushes the spirit of our children.

What is lacking with our students is what is lacking with our parents: They "do not feel a connection and a responsibility to those around them, [or] a sense that others depend upon them." Not that Palo Altoans don't care, but they don't feel an intimate connection with those around them. This is endemic to the whole country, but communities of affluence are particularly vulnerable.

We lack community in the deepest sense of the word. A place with a shared sense of destiny. A place with the sense that what happens to one affects all. A place where we are all elevated when we help elevate all others.

I believe that every single person comes into this world with a gift to be discovered, nurtured and lovingly received. I would love to see our education system and community based around this. A poem:

(For Malidoma Some’)

You enter life a ship laden with meaning, purpose and gifts
sent to be delivered to this hungry world,
and as much as the world needs your cargo,
you need to give it away.
Everything depends on this.

But the world forgets its needs,
and you forget your mission, and
the ancestral maps used to guide you
have become faded scrawls on the parchment of dead Pharaohs.
The cargo weighs you heavy the longer it is held.
Spoilage becomes a risk.
The ship sputters from port to port and at each you ask:
“Is this the way?”
But the way cannot be found without knowing the cargo,
and the cargo cannot be known without recognizing there is a way.
It is simply this:
You have gifts.
The world needs your gifts.
You must deliver them.

The world may not know it is starving,
but the hungry know,
and they will find you
when you discover your cargo
and start to give it away.

Greg Kimura

Like this comment
Posted by Richard Dawkins
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2007 at 7:38 pm

that's not a poem, it doesn't even rhyme!

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