You know how some people just have an almost obsessive love for something, and they live and breath it from the time they are children, passionately pursuing it and becoming an expert in their chosen field just because it touches something in their hearts?
What if that love is put on hold, set aside, dismissed, for more "important" things, like multiplication tables or parts of speech, and the precious season for Love of Learning is squandered in favour of the mundane and the ordinary?
What if we all lose because a child somewhere is forced, or shamed into giving up that love for more "important" things like grammar, or ringette? (Not that I think any of these are not worthwhile pursuits, in their proper season and place!)
Do you believe that could happen?
Have you ever had a passion that you were convinced to set aside in order to follow a schedule that someone else deems more important?
Just asking. Because when I saw the following, I wondered...What if Bart Weetjens Mom had told him "No hamster will ever live in this house!"? What if he were completely shut down in his desire to form relationships with rodents? What if he were instead forced to channel all his free time into vicariously fulfilling his parent's dreams, like, say, being coerced to attempt to become a concert violinist or a movie star?
For example, look at this "Hero Rats" project run by this Belgian researcher in Tanzania. He's been a rodent-lover since childhood, and has turned that love to training African giant pouched rats to sniff out land mines! These rats are BIG, and they're so cute, they live around 8 years and are super trainable. Did you know that a landmine explodes somewhere in the world about once an hour? And Africa has more than anywhere else. So these rats go out on leashes and sniff out mines and scratch the ground!!! And they're almost always right. I love it! Weetjens, the researcher, is now training rats to sniff out tuberculosis. Check out this: a human lab technician can test about 20 samples for TB in a day; a rat can sniff about 2000. You can watch that segment here.
This story demonstrates to me in a very powerful way that when a child shows a deep, unshakable desire to really LOVE something, to LEARN about something, even when it's something that repulses others, we may do ourselves and mankind in general, a huge service if we facilitate that passion.
The video explains that Bart was inspired by a boyhood passion, and took a chance..and for years he was laughed at, and refused funding. When asked why he continued, in the face of so much opposition he says, " Well, the reason was clear. Obvious. I dreamed of a better world. As long as these landmines are there, the people just cannot build a normal life."
And he is building a better world...WITH RATS!!
THAT 'S what Thomas Jefferson Education is all about...facilitating a love of learning, and facilitating a fulfillment of each individuals personal passion and mission.
As John Taylor Gatto says, "Genius is as common as dirt".
Everybody has their passion, genius, and I believe, special mission they are meant to fulfill.
Even if no one else understands. Even if it involves a passion for the most unloved critters on the planet. Maybe especially then.