Our Students’ Ongoing Mission: to Explore Strange New Worlds
In this post, Resource Center staff member, Nathan Ritter shares some recent experiences that have reminded him why he does what hedoes.
Recently, I’ve been trying to broaden our students’ perspectives on life by introducing them to new fields of study or new educational activities. I have been doing this on my own and having volunteers do it as well. I thought the kids would not be that excited about these new experiences, and sometimes they aren’t. But when it all clicks and the kids love it and want more of it, I feel so good about the work I am doing with them.
I introduced them to the computer program Google Earth, and we learned about the seven continents and took tours of famous locations, including my parents’ house in Arizona. Yesterday I taught them how to read beats and rhythm in music—an activity originally created by one of our volunteers and one I felt needed to be continued. I wasn’t sure if they would get it, but they totally did. And they were smiling while learning about music. Another time, I showed them a website that offers free jigsaw puzzles to do, and now they frequently ask to do more jigsaws. One of the best examples of their growing interest in further studies happened last week when a volunteer was teaching them how to use computers responsibly. My jaw dropped to the floor when not one but several kids raised their hands with questions about the subject. They never do that! In that moment, they were demonstrating to me their ability to think critically and their growing interest in pursuing new knowledge and truth in life.
Who was the true hero of the story?
The true heroes of this story are the kids because they are growing in their mental abilities before my eyes. I see their newly-discovered passion, and it makes me passionate about sharing more with them. I see them realizing that it’s okay to hunger for more information and ask questions and take time to solve puzzles or problems.
Who or what force opposes them?
In my experience, it is not normal for Thai students at their age to problem-solve and think critically. Their educational system does not exercise those parts of their brains. They are taught NOT to ask questions but to simply accept whatever their teachers are telling them is true. In this story, the educational system is the force that opposes our students. It extinguishes their desire to learn and to discover new areas of knowledge.
How did they overcome the obstacle?
All I did was give them the opportunity to exercise that part of the brain which had been neglected. They did the rest of the work. Learning should be fun, and it is proving to be fun for the kids. They are starting to hunger for more.
Who helped the students succeed?
Our entire staff is dedicated to our students’ development on a holistic level. It takes all of us working together for success to happen.
What happened in the end?
Not only are our students experiencing new activities and doing more than just playing games all the time, but they are growing in their ability to search for truth, to question, and to think critically. That is my goal. I want these kids to learn how to pursue worthwhile truths in their lives. And I see it happening.
Who was affected?
I am very excited about how the kids are responding to these new activities. When they enjoy it, I enjoy it. When they want more, I want to give them more. I am the one being inspired to work harder to provide more opportunities like these for our students.
I don’t think the students have noticed the change in themselves yet, but I do think they are broadening their interests and exercising their mental abilities. It’s only a matter of time until they realize how much they have grown.