Reading: The Greatest Gift I Had Ever Dreamed Of.
With the inability to read, write, or spell, Curtis "Wall Street" Carroll felt like crime was his only way to go. Feeling as if no one cared; the absence of "the village," he gave way to a life filled with high risk experiences that forced him into a space where his genius was activated.
Who do we blame for this? Is there any one person that is responsible? Educators catch a lot of heat for what society feels that they are not doing? Many people couldn't begin to comprehend the number of hats that people in education actually wear; teachers SPECIFICALLY! I've said on multiple occasions that the toughest guy wouldn't survive a full day in a typical public school classroom. I say typical because the field has RANGE!
Hearing this young man, Curtis Carroll, makes me think about my own students and my purpose in this field. I come before them as a beacon of hope looking to empower them; identifying strengths that they never knew that they had. Many of them feel that they come with nothing. Just as this young man expressed, they don't feel like their communities care about them at all. Many of which come from homes where education is not championed because they have not seen anyone, for generations, that they feel education has worked for. Aspirations often involve entertainment and sports. Not even taking into account that those fields offer the least opportunity for acceptance. Open House is less likely to be attended, but those athletic events where they can see their children shine, there is likely to be standing room only.
At 20, Carroll describes his inexperience with reading as agonizing. AT TWENTY!!! Imagine had someone shown enough care to intervene with this young man before he got to the point where he felt he was out of options.
Praise is due; the young man following a self-investment learned to read and took it upon himself to use these newly developed tools to teach financial literacy to his community creating a program called F.E.E.L.; "Financial Empowerment Emotional Literacy."
Perception can lead to delusion. Oftentimes people are caught up with the idea that we all aren't the responsibility of one another. We ostracize those with high needs without realizing that we are possibly adding salt to an open wound. Our youth don't come into the world as criminals. These survival skills are activated by circumstance.
Many young people feel that crime and money are related. How do we alter this mindset? How can we expose them to the possibilities that await them that do not involve a life of crime? When will we accept the idea that literacy is a foundational skill that MUST be cultivated in every child because their academic success is limited without it? I teach children but my desire is to expose you. In the words of the late GREAT Tupac Amaru Shakur, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”