As much as it scares me, I’m putting myself out there, I’m taking a risk…putting aside pride, financial gain, potentially failing, this is about being the person I was meant to be.
As I mentioned before I’m attempting a private tutoring service start-up under the umbrella organization of “Holistic Learning Center” (HLC). Essentially this is my end goal – I’m kind of doing the equivalent of a flashback. I have the name and concept of where I want to end up, but I’m starting off small with private tutoring and trying to build a network from there. In the mean time I’m pursuing my MA Special Needs education via distance learning from the University of Nottingham during which I hope to expand my knowledge of inclusive education strategies and teaching in such a way as to cater to individual learning styles, strengths and weaknesses. My mantra is education rather than the retention and rote learning of information, with the motto of HLC being “Making Time for You“.
In essence this is what I want this center to be. I eventually want to turn it into a facility that can cater to adult, adolescent and childhood education and simply be that safe space where people can come to learn and engage in non-traditional education. When I applied to universities this year for postgraduate entry I wrote all about my hopes and dreams for this learning center. I’d like to think that it was that passion expressed in my application, that got me admitted to two top universities in the U.S. for masters degrees related to education rehabilitation, community work and activism and empowerment through education. For reasons beyond my control, very much related to financial constraints, I could attend neither of these schools. And after passing through all the stages of grief, I think I have to try something else…some how I have to move forward and take control of my dreams.
As a student and a “slow learner”, I experienced the harsh side of the school system. I experienced my personality being too animated and my examination performance being too average for those in authority, my teachers and mentors, to handle. In one way or another I simply wasn’t the easiest student to teach and as such I felt…like an inconvenience. When I was about 15 years old I broke down crying in class because I was asked to read aloud and simply could not. I was so ashamed of myself, my anxiety of course got the better of me and quite frankly I felt stupid. After being assessed for dyslexia, it was found that my speed of processing information was lower than average and this accounted for my “slowness”. I wasn’t stupid – I just took longer to understand and internalize information. Imagine something as simple as not moving as fast as everyone else caused me to feel like a horrible, failure of a student (and person) for years in the traditional school system. Was I hard on myself or what…
I think what struck me the most was the remedy to my problem was to give me extra time in exams. Not change the teaching style, or assist in my understanding of myself and my unique learning capabilities. Simply give me extra time to complete (ie regurgitate) the work that was taught during class. In no way am I ungrateful for that and I am definitely not underestimating the impact that this facility had on my ability to do better in exams, however I think at that moment I realized just how unwelcoming the system was for students who strayed from the norm, or who required a little more attention. This is the gap I wanted to fill, and though I didn’t know it at that point in my life, all my experiences have led me to this point.
We were born with fire and gold in our eyes. I heard this song and I immediately felt guilty, accepting the fact that for a while my passion, my flare, my shine had diminished and I was responsible for simple “going through the motions” each day. At what point do we lose that glimmer, that hope, that potential for greatness. I said to myself that I want this post to be more positive. I want people to know that each and every one of them has the capacity for strength, courage and growth far beyond their imagining. The school system I described is just one of the many systems that break us down, that dampen our internal firewood. It’s the main reason I left my job. I started working in an environment where I saw the world of potential, yet each day I felt like my spirit was being corroded, disintegrated by bureaucratic termites. But enough of that.
My point is HLC is my end game. It’s my opportunity to take everything I’ve experienced, all that negativity, disappointment and chaos, and channel it into a smoldering core of hope for others.