Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ditch the lines and the boxes!

The teacher presided over the classroom, monitoring the hand writing of every single child in class. It was first grade and the emphasis was on neatness, holding the pencil with precision and as much as possible trying to get the little children to write with their right hands. 

Johnny in the corner of the classroom was doing battle with his pencil, slipping and smudging graphite residue on his newly starched shirt. After days of having written on lined paper, he found that today he was struggling to write in neat little lines, purely because this time, the teacher was testing them. The sheets before him were unlined. 

The teacher bent over him in frustration and reprimanded him for not being able to keep a straight line, with his writing especially since he was able to every other day in his lined workbook. 

Fast forward twenty years later to a conversation that he had with a friend of his in the campus cafeteria. Johnny’s friend idly picked up his study notebook, nestling between the two cappuccinos at the table and flicked through. It wasn’t a remarkable notebook, but what stood out was Johnny’s neat, military- precision like handwriting contained within the lines on each page. 

Johnny’s friend questioned him about his super tidy hand writing, to which Johnny recounted the episode with his teacher that was the pivotal moment that had brought him to such precise and orderly handwriting. He explained in detail how his teacher had frowned upon the fact that his scratchy scrawl filled the unlined pages at weird angles and arches totally at odds with following a linear structure like he ought to. 

Upon hearing this Johnny’s friend sighed deeply, placed a reassuring arm on his shoulder and said…
If only that teacher saw what YOU did on that day. If only your teacher saw that even at the age of five that you were streets ahead, possessing the wisdom and the foresight to be the only one in class that was being FREE in a liberated space. 

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