Thursday, January 13, 2011

Akeelah and The Bee

Akeelah puts me to shame. Seriously. There’re tonnes of words out there that she spelled which I can’t! and to think she’s only 11. But of course, it’s only a movie. I would like very much to believe it’s just that. But then again, I would also like to believe there really exist kids like her; and surely, a teacher like Dr. Joshua Larabee.

She’s one lucky girl, I must say. So was I. Like Akeelah, I was blessed with wonderful teachers who developed my English proficiency by leaps and bounds. 16 years ago, I was as Chinese as one could get from a student of a typical Chinese school. Following a 2 year stay in the UK, I pride myself now in being bilingual, and a fairly good one at that. The change I would love to credit to my two wonderful primary 2 and 3 teachers from Birmingham’s Woodgate’s Junior and Infant School – my primary school during my stay there. I was new, I was Chinese, I knew only ABCs and XYZs.

“How did you come to school?”
“Teacher, I use leg.”
(Joke of the year and the many following years.)

So much for all the English lessons in school. Shame on me. Shame on me. With love and patience, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Richards sat down with me every single day after school to read with me. They read me stories, they gave me books to bring home and they showered me with endless praises when I do well. In fact, there was not one time that they scolded me when I made mistakes. It was only encouragement all the way.

Now that I too, am going to be a teacher in the near future, there is so much I could draw from this movie and past experiences with the awesome teachers I had myself. Dr. Joshua Larabee taught me the most important lesson of all – believe in your student as much as you want her to believe in herself. Despite her ability to spell better than the others, she was an outcast in school. Hence, she refused to let herself shine; until Dr. Larabee came by. He challenged her and gave her reasons to believe she can do better than she already is. He showed her what spelling really is – not just rote memorization of letters but rather, an understanding of the mechanics and history of the words themselves. It amazed me how he broke the big words into smaller parts and elicited meanings for each of them. Having known the language that long I am ashamed to say I have never really paid attention to this aspect of it.

As a movie, I’d give this a two thumbs up. The beginning of its plot shows us a fairly conventional movie. However, something happens during the finals of the National Spelling Bee that we never saw coming; and it is this ending that touches me the most. What she did for Dylan, her final opponent, only he can understand; and he did. That’s what made the ending even more beautiful – with both these kids emerging as co-champions for the first time ever in the history of the National Spelling Bee. Winning isn’t everything; and Akeelah Anderson understood that. Her generosity and empathy taught her that doing the right thing involves more than just winning. This is what makes this movie even more valuable.

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

It isn’t the fear of losing that should frighten us, but rather, the fear of not knowing what we’re capable of doing to win.

Our deepest fear is that we’re powerful beyond measure. Believe it.

No comments:

Post a Comment