I believe the most important thing to learn is to learn how to learn. I’ve been in school for ten years and from my experience with my studies I realize that I would be no where if I didn’t know how to successfully learn. I remember very vividly a time when learning was key to moving forward. I was in the sixth grade and the end of the year was coming fast, my grades were slowly slipping I didn’t know what to do. I desperately needed help so I decided to stay afterschool and go in for help. My teacher knew exactly what to do; she took it back to the very beginning and asked me a deep question; what is learning? Seeing as how I couldn’t answer the question, she told me the answer. She told me that learning is taking skills and utilizing them to make them stick. A now easy simple question led to conversation which went deeper and deeper, making me think harder than ever. After that day my grades went up, my attitude changed and I realized what I needed to do; I need to gain more knowledge. I need to learn more. This experience
Almost two, I stand there watching and listening, trying to learn to talk. It’s like I knew what was being said but could not say it. Frustrated as people would tease, say mama or dada I would try, but it always came out wrong. Over and over, the tongue twisters made me madder and madder until some days I just would not even try. I knew what I wanted which would make things only worse. I would cry scream and kick and just piss everyone off till I got in trouble. I would walk around the big world; being so little made things much harder on a little guy like me. Every task was ten times harder for me and would get me all upset, especially when I wanted my juice. Seeing how I was only two, I couldn’t get it myself, so I would have to try to get someone to do it for me. Not being able to talk was a big problem because I had no way of telling my dad or mom what it was I wanted. I would try and say juice but it only came out a word that I even thought was strange.
Journalism was the most authentic writing experience my students every enjoyed and the best teaching I have ever done. My journalism students at Title One, urban schools in Southern California were almost all the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. We always had at least three different primary languages on staff; one year we had seven, yet they regularly won prizes for quality of their paper. The students had a real audience, a real purpose and a real voice. They came into my classroom before 7 a.m. for a zero period class. They worked on the paper after school and on Saturdays. Sometimes I forced them out at 9 p.m. I taught them about research and writing, and about the First Amendment and the responsibilities of the press, but they lived those principles while they made editorial decisions, almost always mature and responsible decisions. My demure young business manager, the child of an elderly refugee, told me one morning that her father had pointed to a Vietnamese woman digging for recyclables at curb as he drove her through the winter darkness. “See her. She is why I want you to study journalism. You must tell her story.” My first principals,