Just a Boy Who Likes Turtles

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Of late, in my talks around the country, I have read this poem

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Rv1r8CVr2k?hl=en&fs=1]

I first heard this poem as part of a talk that my friend and unoffical mentor Richard Gerver gave in the UK last year – which you can view at the end of this post.

The overwhelming response from the audience when I read this poem is that, “Wow, that’s pretty bloody good… and how old did you say the kid was who wrote that?” – He was nine.

Imagine the reaction of the audience when I then tell that his teacher’s response to this poem was less than complimentary.

You see the problem was this kid was supposed to write a poem about what it is like to be a turtle.

Richard Gerver uses this poem as an example of what happens when we focus only on achieving a certain outcome.

I argue it also shines a light on what it means to genuinely engage students.

In this case, the teacher believes Clint hasn’t conformed to what was expected and as such saw no value in his poem. The teacher mistakes conformity (or the lack there of) with a lack of engagement.

It’s probably also worth noting that according to his teachers, Clint was one of those kids. “Maybe mild ADHD, lives in his own world, attendance could be better etc.”

My last blog post explored what genuine engagement really looks like and argued that Kids Shouldn’t Go to Schools – rather schools should go to kids.

A pre-service teacher who was in a lecture I gave at the University of Wollongong this week said the poem was “Deep.” Another likened it to something “A young Lennon might have written – he was a pommie too right?”

Maybe comparing to Lennon is going a touch far, but imagine if these two were teaching Clint.

I reckon his ADHD might settle down, and his attendance might improve a little… and who’s to say his own little world is all that bad anyway?

I really hope Richard can somehow let Clint know that Aussie teachers love his poem!

Click here to listen to Richard’s talk in full.

0 Comments on “Just a Boy Who Likes Turtles

  1. Hi Dan
    How moving is that poem! It highlights so well, that we can miss the child for the teaching, and not really look at what they are learning. Sometimes it isn’t the outcome we expected.

    I had a little chuckle too, because I’m a mother of a child like Clint- his name is Daniel though. There’s probably a whole universe of these children up in space somewhere. They don’t fit the mould. I believe they’re the visionaries, the ones who’ll change the world and make it a better place because they will challenge us to see it differently.
    I hope Clint knows how amazing and talented he is!
    Kind regards
    Kate Todd

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