This I Believe

Jody - Chico, California
Entered on May 10, 2006

Willing to learn

It was in my 7th grade classroom that I first met John. I can still remember the first time I saw him; the years of his life prominently displayed on his face, with curly hair that shot up wildly from his forehead in white tufts. He entered into our class, for the most part, unnoticed, and when our teacher finally directed him to the front, we learned that he would be coming in each Thursday to talk to us about scientific matters. Most of the kids in the class were unimpressed by the man standing before them, including myself.

John began coming in each week to talk to us about plant life, the cosmos, earthquakes, rivers and various other scientific realms. Straight away, I knew there was something different about John. Learning with John wasn’t worksheets, homework and tests; it was experiencing what he was telling us. It was life. We learned about the world, and how it works together in harmony. He would always tell us that he wasn’t just teaching us, but that we were teaching him as well. He would come in every week with more questions that we would try to answer together as a group. We were learning together. All we had to do was want to participate in the learning.

I believe in the importance of being willing to learn. We can all learn what is needed to get through school, pass tests, and get degrees; but some of the most important learning that we do is not from a textbook or in a lecture. I don’t remember most of what John taught me about science. I can’t remember very many elements on the periodic table, and I don’t know the sections of the brain anymore. What I do know, is that John inspired me. Here was this elderly man, still excited about something as simple as the sound a bird makes when flying overhead. He was always reading and learning and experiencing life, and this made me want to do the same.

Before I met John, I did only what I could to pass a class. After I met John, I realized that school wasn’t just something I had to do. It was something that I should want to do. He also taught me that learning shouldn’t be restricted to just the classroom. He made me recognize that not all teachers wear that specific label. They could be your next-door neighbor, your best friend, someone you bump into on the street, or a retired man that loves science. I learned more from John about life than I did about science and I credit him as the most important teacher I’ve ever had.

There are so many opportunities to learn everyday. Every single person has a story, or an idea that they can give you. I try to take time out of my day to listen to others and to take from them every ounce of knowledge that I can. I know that everyone has it in them to be a teacher. We just need to be willing to learn.