I am no doubt behind the times, but over the past month I have become very interested in the remarkable story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for education and woman’s rights who was shot in the head by the Taliban at age 15, survived, and continues her crusade today. With her father as her role model and encourager, her activism began as a student in Pakistan and was not silenced by the violence carried out against her. This month I read her memoir I Am Malala, a moving account of her life, Pakistani culture, and her motivations for speaking about injustices against women and children.
Confession time: A guilty pleasure for me was always watching David Letterman on late night television. For whatever reason, his Hoosier roots, self-deprecating humor, and just plain silliness always appealed to me. As a result, I have been meaning to check out his recent Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. With today being my first full day of summer break, I opened the episode of this series where Malala was interviewed.
It is one thing to have a book ghostwritten with you. It is another to be interviewed by someone like Letterman. However, the result was both insightful and enjoyable. Malala (I think she is becoming one of those people one simply knows by their first name) spoke passionately on her favorite topics, but also emotionally and poignantly about her beloved Swat Valley in Pakistan and the circumstances around her attack and recovery. In other words, this is a poised young lady who has discovered her voice and uses it to benefit many.
As I was watching this episode I was thinking, “This is what I want to help students do as much as possible.” I want to help them find their voice and their passion. I want to do what I can to help them make a difference, not just in the future, but right now. And from a Christian perspective, I want to help them more fully use the God-given interests and abilities they have received, refining them and testing them, so they can better serve God in His Kingdom.
This experience has led to the establishment of a priority for me this summer: Preparing to help my students better discover this voice in both Lights Academy (the personalized, project-based academy which I lead) and my other classes. As I think about this, there are a few students I know are ready for the amplification of their voices. Perhaps more common for high school students is that they are seeking to understand where to make a difference. I want to better help those students as well — helping them ask good questions and then providing freedom to find answers to these questions. I am committed over the summer to do more study and deep thinking about how to make this possible for students.
Thanks Malala, for not only being an inspiration to many, but also for reminding me of the teacher I want to continue to be and inspiring me to continue to learn and improve in my chosen craft.