“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” –Dalai Lama
As a teacher, I have given much thought to this word. Much. And I believe many of my colleagues join me in the frustration that arises when a student is not working to his/her potential.
Oscar, my soon-to-be third-grader, has already started thinking about grades. He has asked on several occasions “what would happen if” he were to earn a “C” or a “D.” My response is always the same: “If it’s the best you can do, then it’s the best you can do. But if it’s not, well, then we’d have to talk about why you’re not doing your best work.”
Recently The Boston Globe featured a segment on epilepsy that included an accompanying interview with Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a neuroscientist and Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. His focus is on treatments for an array of conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, and autism, which he called “the great destroyers of human potential.”
And he’s right. They are. Left untreated or mistreated, conditions such as these and epilepsy, too, destroy human potential. The idea that we might never know the contributions of scores and scores of human beings is sobering, overwhelming.
As Edgar’s mother, I know what epilepsy has done to my son’s potential this last year. And as grateful–truly, truly grateful–as I am for the myriad medications that have helped him to become seizure-free, I am equally grateful that as the medications are lessened, the side effects mitigating, he is becoming increasingly able to access his potential.
Yesterday Edgar was able to get through an entire day without napping, a mile-long walk without a stroller; and this morning memories that he hasn’t been able to activate–including the names of all of the characters in his beloved Harry Potter–were there, so much so that he was able to teach his younger brother everything he knows.
Today he was able to unlock his potential, bask in the glow of self-confidence, and build a better world for his younger brother–a seemingly small moment that was anything but.