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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Significance of a Starfish

I came across this tale a while ago, and it has stayed with me:
There once was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore, as he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day and he began to walk faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man, and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something, and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
He called out, “Good morning, what are you doing?”
The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked: WHY are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them, then they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. There must be thousands of them on this beach alone. You can’t possibly hope to make a difference!”
The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “To THAT one, I made a difference.”
The message I got from this is clear: I cannot change the whole world. But I can make a difference.  If I can enable one more child to have an opportunity, to be taught be a teacher who cares if that child learns, then I have made a difference.


Larry Corell said...

The starfish could also be the teachers not the students. There are many teachers who get beached and someone should be in there throwing them back in the ocean. Maybe one might make it as a significant teacher in the sea of rules and regulations, paperwork and gov't regulations. Don't you think that schools should have the option of retiring some of them for the good of the students? Also I think that charter schools are our best hope for the public school system.

Melanie Kurdys said...

Good thought that the teachers could be the starfish! The system has become very intrusive to the classroom and the flexibility of teachers. That said, the teaching profession must hold itself to a level of quality outcome, just like doctors. I think the whole scope of choice is the solution. No one fix is a silver bullet, but many choices will open up creative solutions that meet the needs of more children, AND more teachers.