Can we be “really human” – flaws and all – and not some stereotype of our job description?
Communication would be so much easier if our co-workers, students, patients, clients, or family saw the whole person beyond the role we are playing in certain aspects of our lives.
Imagine how we could reduce the stress in our lives if we looked past the surface of every situation.
We’d like to introduce you to someone special who puts it out there for his students, family, and us all. Jeffrey Wright is a teacher at Louisville Male Traditional High School in Louisville, Kentucky, and it’s easy to see he is a master in the art of teaching… but he is much more.
He’s also a master at being really human: connecting, caring, staying open to better questions, coping, and adjusting his expectations in a healthy way.
Here’s an awesome video from The New York Times about Mr. Jeffrey Wright, a “whole person” for the ages:
Now that is the definition of “keeping it real”. We could stop there today, but I’d like to go further and ask a few questions to bring this home…
Can we be really human when we are dentists and waitresses, pilots and social workers, bankers and teachers, builders and every other productive person who plays a role in society?
Maybe that’s what we like about true artists: they seem so willing to just put themselves out there for all the world to see and even braver, they expect to be judged! Artists put their heart and soul into their work and risk exposing their flaws, skills, dreams, ego, their passion, and their struggles.
Many of the best teachers are that way too! And for all the risk that involves, most of them get back a kind of admiration and devotion from students that inspires and changes lives.
So how do we productively break the stereotypes?
I was recently in line getting ready to go through the whole TSA screening process in an airport. I came upon the most extraordinary fellow directing us all to remove our laptops, shoes, belts, etc. Rather than drone on with a scowl, he was the picture of humanity: funny, upbeat, kind, appreciative, and patient.
He joked with those who looked like they needed to lighten up, talked softly and carefully to the elderly who seemed at a loss, and had some amazingly engaging riffs with the teens and played with the little tykes as if he were one of them.
All the while, helping us comply with the rules. It was a joy to be in his presence!
When it was my turn to get the TSA guy’s schtick, I put my hand on his arm and thanked him very loudly. People started clapping who were within earshot of the conversation. He beamed. It was a teaching moment for all of us.
Mr. Wright’s Purpose
Here’s a quote from Mr. Wright about why he feels he needs to put it all out there for the kids to appreciate his teaching of physics in such an extraordinary way:
When you look at physics, it’s all about laws and how the world works,” he told me. “But if you don’t tie those laws into a much bigger purpose, the purpose in your heart, then they are going to sit there an ask the question ‘Who cares?’
“Kids are very spiritual – they want a bigger purpose. I think that’s where this story gives them something to think about. 2 – Jeffrey Wright
Thank you, Mr. Wright, for teaching us a thing or two today!
His students appreciate him too!
In 2012, one of Mr. Wright’s former students – one of the many who have been touched by Wright’s incredible ability to teach more than just notes, figures, and theorems but rather life skills and deep, outside-the-box thought – Zack Conkle – made a 13-minute documentary highlighting Mr. Wright’s incredible, impactful way of teaching. He discussed the lessons of life as he himself learned through working with his disabled son, Adam. The video from The New York Times (above) by Zack Conkle won the College Photographer of the Year competition in 2012. This was at the University of Missouri, where Conkle studied.
If you’d like to read a wonderful interview that that quote and this video each came from, jump over to the original New York Times article Laws of Physics Can’t Trump the Bonds of Love by clicking here.
Stay open, hopeful and curious!
~ Dr. Lynda
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