Share With You Sundays : I Have a Dream…

In honor of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ohio University has a contest for grades 6th through 12th. The entrants are supposed to create a speech on a topic they feel passionate about, using the same writing mechanics and methods as King did in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Members of the Literature Club were called upon to help judge the entries and I happily volunteered. I thought it might give me a taste of what was in my future as a middle school English teacher. Boy, did it ever and in more ways than one.
First, some of the entries were really kind of amazing. Many, while there may have been a grammatical error or typo here and there, were very well thought out and actually hit the mark as far as being inspiring, like King’s famous speech. It was interesting that you could almost kind of tell around what age each author was by reading their paper, even though we weren’t given any identifiable information.
It also gave me insight as to what social issues our youth are concerned about right now. It caused me no small heartache when I realized that slightly over fifty percent of the entries were about bullying in some form or another. In many of these the children expressed their hurt along with their ideas on how bullying can be stopped, even providing statistics to back up their statements. I was struck by the percentage of children who felt that the teachers and school administrators did nothing to help them or stop the peer abuse. As a parent I can say I have to agree with these children and the statistics. Last school year my daughter was being bullied and when I finally called to speak to her principal and get something done, I got the impression that my daughter was being made to feel like she was exaggerating and not being truthful about the situation. If you know me, I’m sure you can imagine where things went from there. This behavior of school administrators is deplorable to me and I can promise you right now, once I begin teaching I will not be one of those teachers who stands idly by while her students are victimized by their peers.
Lastly, reading these speeches gave me hope. I decided to go into teaching because I love talking to people about writing and sharing my experience and knowledge with them. Especially the younger generation. However, I have another reason for putting myself in a position to influence our youth. I am determined to teach them how to think for themselves. I want to teach them how to look at all sides of a story and place themselves in other peoples’ shoes. I want to teach them how important it is to educate yourself and that knowledge is the greatest weapon you can have. Reading these speeches gave me hope that I just might be able to accomplish this. Yes, I have a dream too…


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