The Ready Room: Dreams and Mentors

At various times in the school year, as part of my work as a teacher, I am involved in interviewing students for various programs to which they are applying.  Often, one of the kinds of questions I ask a student is this:  why do you want to be involved in this (enrichment) program?  Or I might ask:  tell us about someone who inspires you.  With these kinds of questions, time and again, young people begin to open up their lives and tell us stories.  They are the stories of what they dream of, and they are the stories of those who have been guiding hands and hearts in their lives.  It makes no difference the background of the student, whether the student comes from affluence or modest means: they have dreams, and they have their mentors and guardians.  I am also so moved and inspired by these stories that I find it easy to forget why I am there. I am there to interview them, but they often end up inspiring me.

Recently, a colleague said to me after one such set of interviews with students:  wouldn’t be something if we could just set aside all of the testing that we had to do and give teachers time to sit down and just talk with students like this?  We would know more about who they are and what they are bringing to the table than any test could ever tell us.  It would revolutionize education.

Indeed.  So, I am imagining today the “revolution” of human relations that might take place if we tried to engage each other (anyone) that we come into contact with by honoring their stories:  what moves you to do this thing that you are doing (what are your dreams)? Who has inspired you and guided you in your life (who are your mentors)?

The stories that would come forth would be the “ready rooms” of our fellows, and if my experience interviewing students is any measure, what is already in our fellows is often a blessing and a wise guide for the rest of us.

Bob Patrick

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