Mar
03

2013

Life’s lessons are sometimes not found in the classroom. ~ By Karen Cumming



 

Motivating kids today in a hard to motivate world.
I’m an educator.  This is work that is not for the faint of heart, I can assure you.  Many times, I’ve gone home after a long day and cried.  Eaten copious amounts of chocolate, even. Why?  Because believe it or not,many of the folks who sit in those desks staring back at me don’t have a dream for their life.   
And it’s heartbreaking.  They don’t know how to persist in the face of adversity.  They don’t know what they want to do, and even if they did, they wouldn’t know where to start.  No one has given them hope.  They literally don’t know what it is to set a goal, do the work required to get there and
then celebrate victory.
faith_the_dog_
 
You can imagine what a challenge this becomes when trying to teach the basics of reading and writing.
“I don’t care” is the familiar rallying cry.  Much of the time these teenagers have no drive, no ambition, no enthusiasm. And it goes against the grain of everything I am. 
So I try to inspire them somehow.  I show them videos on Youtube to motivate them into action… reassure them that failure isn’t final, and that persistence is everything.
 
Enter Faith the Dog.
Faith the Dog appeared on the Oprah show many years ago.  As a puppy, she was born with no front legs, only hind ones. The breeder saw no future for her.  But her new owners did.  And they set about doing what most of the rest of us would never dream of.  They taught Faith to walk like a human on her two hind legs.  
 
They motivated her with spoonfuls of peanut butter and praised her to high heaven whenever she put one paw in front of the other. She walked.  And then miraculously, she ran.
two legged dog
Faith has her own website.  She travels to schools everywhere showing children that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.  In fact, there is even a stuffed toy version of Faith, which now sits proudly in my home. She is one of my heroes.
 
When I show the video in class, some of the girls inevitably cry.  The boys pretend it doesn’t affect them, but I know better.  Faith walks.  She runs.  She chases a ball.  She walks across the stage to be greeted by Oprah Winfrey, as if to say “Why wouldn’t I?”  And in so doing, she shows all of us that courage is nothing more than refusing to give up. Day in.  Day out.  It’s walking on your two hind legs when everyone around you tells you it’s never been done before.
 
So the next time you’re having a bad day, wondering what it’s all about and what on earth you’re doing here, think of this beautiful creature and everything she has to teach us.
 
Keep going.  Don’t give up.  Oh, and while you’re at it, give my regards to Oprah.
Karen

Karen CummingKaren Cumming has worked in the media for 25 years, reporting for radio, television, and writing for national magazines.  She lives in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

Karen is currently an educator and freelance writer who loves to explore the possibilities of positivity.  Her most recent gig as a reporter/producer at the London 2012 Olympics was an amazing opportunity to hang out with some of the most positive people on earth.

A dream, a goal, and a willingness to do the work.  What a lesson those athletes have to teach us all.  More on that in future blogs!

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