There's no class to teach in the first two periods, so I sit in the staff room again with the teachers. The topic of discussion this time is the handful of students in the school who are actually eager to learn, do extremely well and get excellent results. I've come across quite a few of them myself. I can tell you, they're like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise choked environment.
Mid-morning, I go with my teacher to the first class of the day. There are no more than five students in attendance, most of whom are girls. One of them starts talking animatedly to the teacher about a boy she just met who happens to be the very epitome of glamour: young, clever, handsome, rich, all that. In short, she thinks she's found her future. Meanwhile she has problems solving fractions and ratios because she does not know her times tables. Oh, never mind that!
This girl's excitement is contagious, and soon another girl is telling the class about her life-long dream to marry Amir Khan (British lightweight boxing champion). Fifteen minutes into the lesson, she's done nothing but primp herself in front of a small mirror she carries about in her bag.
After about thirty minutes, the class finally settles down to work. Amir Khan's crushee sits at her desk in a corner with her knees drawn up to her chest and her back against the wall. I notice she's been watching me with obvious interest for the past five minutes or so. I carry on as if I haven't noticed. Finally, she blurts out to me: "Miss, how long have you been in university?". (Well, that's a question I've not even asked myself because the answer is quite scary!).
We start a conversation in which she tells me she wants to be a lawyer but she doesn't think she can can do it because she can't understand mathematics. I tell her there's nothing to be feared in Mathematics, and that she can be a lawyer with or without Mathematics, if she would just put her mind to it. I proceed to help her with her equations, and pretty soon she picks it up and even starts enjoying it.
By the time the lesson ends an hour later, she's definitely not the same girl who walked into the class that morning. True, she's not yet where she needs to be, but she's a step closer to there, all because I took sixty minutes of my time to deposit some knowledge and confidence into her. That makes my heart glad. If I have not achieved anything else on this placement, this singular experience would've made it worth it.