Sunday, February 16, 2014

If Jamaica can Bobsled, Low-Socio Kids can Compete...

The Jamaica Bobsled Team is nothing short of inspiring to watch.  Think about it.  They lack resources.  They come from a country that doesn't have tons of economic support beating down their door.  Heck, they don't have snow or ice.  There should be no reason why they should be in the mountains, let alone competing in the Winter Olympics.

But they don't know that.

Sure, they don't have years of tradition, prestige, and gold medal excellence like Russia, Switzerland, USA and Canada.  They don't have a world class training facility, and they don't have scores of coaches and contracted service providers to help them win.  There should be no reason why I'm watching them on NBC tonight.

But they don't want to hear that.

Here's the point.  Kids of all sorts of backgrounds, languages and experiences walk in our doors.  Some come from world class homes, and some kids come from homes with no water or electricity.  Kids walk in the door 2 years behind their affluent counterparts due to lack of experiences and vocabulary.  Neglect and abuse plague many kids and mask their potential to compete with their peers.  Lack of financial resources and adequate nutrition negatively impact students' ability to learn.

But we accept this...

Jamaica Bobsledding was nothing until someone believed in the concept of this tropical island competing in a sport it was not prepared for.  It took a lot of hard work and soul-searching for Jamaicans to believe they belonged with their affluent counterparts of the tundra.  It started with one person, a vision and a team, and it resulted in a shattered paradigm and a country transformed.  Now, they are the most recognizable bobsled team at the Olympics.

And we can do this...

Low socio-economic student CAN learn with their affluent counterparts.  We have to stop accepting this paradigm and create a new one that requires us to stop teaching in the one-size-fits-all model.  Kids deserve meaningful differentiation, personalized learning opportunities and targeted responses in the eyes of failure.  All kids can learn as long as they have educators who cannot see barriers and are prepared to do whatever it takes to help kids learn.

If Jamaica can bobsled, low socioeconomic kids can learn with their affluent counterparts.

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