Unexpected Inspiration

God will always place people in your path to inspire you. This will often happen when you least expect it.

I often go to my local bookstore for leisurely reading. On my last visit, a lady with a salt and pepper Afro sat across from me. She would get up periodically and look for new books. After several trips through the aisles, she became short of breath and asked me if I knew where the African American section of the store was located. This was the beginning of a conversation that lasted nearly forty minutes.

I found inspiration from our conversation about her son. He is eighteen years old and is home schooled periodically. Since his childhood, he has defied the formal structure of education systems. He believes that the search for knowledge should be a personal journey— one not forced upon you by others that determine what and how you should learn. To help educate him, the mother buys books that interest him and places them around their house. Currently on his reading list is a physics textbook, Scientific American magazine, the Black Swan, and books on philosophy. Obviously this child is no fool, but appears to be borderline genius. He prides himself in noticing an example of feminism in nature: the fact that mitochondria have their own DNA that comes ONLY from the female parent. In her son’s opinion, the existence of mitochondrial DNA confirms his theory that God is secretly a woman, and knows exactly what she was doing.

As a teenager, this child built his own music studio, studied musical engineering, and participated in summer camps at Juilliard. His philosophical approach on many topics parallel that of any highly recognized scientist.

So why am I so inspired? I am inspired because at one time or another, I have had students like him in my class. They were failing everything, bored in class, but were obviously intelligent. This mother’s story motivates me as an educator to try harder to reach these students instead of becoming frustrated if my simplistic middle school activities do not interest them. It also supports my belief that we need more alternative school settings for our youth who don’t fit into the traditional model of education. These students are destined to do great things; they just may not find it within the four walls of a typical classroom.

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