Visual Learners!

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A Life Lesson

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington was recently faced with a unique problem.

A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom.

That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Every night the maintenance man would remove them, and the next day the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done.

She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man.

She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night (you can just imagine the yawns from the little princesses).

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.

Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers … and then there are educators.

By Shahnaz Zafar


A Frightening Realization

Dawn of Life

The energy and enthusiasm in her voice was electric, and the inspiration she had coursing through her system made her eyes shine like a beacon on an inky night.   My friend was telling me about all of the wonderful plans she had for the future, and was describing with exciting detail what she wanted to have happening in her life 20 years later.   With her vivid depictions, even though it was her future, I was looking forward to it.

Then, somewhere in the middle of our conversation, I came to a terribly frightening realization: my friend and I were exactly two decades apart in age, so her 20 years in the future was my today.

I started wondering what had happened to all of the dreams I once had for my own future. I remembered my high school valedictorian telling our graduating class that I would be the person to change the face of chemistry as we know it.  I think that was her vision of my future more so than my own, but the suggestion she made had still left a strong impression.  She believed that I would do something important to change the world.  But since that time, what amazing things had I done to transform humanity?  If my time on this planet were to be finished right now, what could I say I would I be leaving behind?

Twenty years of my adult life had gone, and I couldn’t go back to get any one of them.

Then a line from a movie I had watched some years before echoed in my mind:  ‘Carpe diem – Seize the day’. With a heavy heart, I realized that it had taken me way too many years and a conversation with a friend to fully understand what that meant.  Would there be enough days left for me to seize now?  I would have to find out…”

The children in your care are at the dawn of their lives.  They have the whole future open to them, with endless opportunities within their reach.  That twinkle of excitement in their eyes is just being born.  And you are one of the priviledged few to witness it.

What seeds will you help these young people plant?  What role will you play in nurturing their talents and helping them bring their dreams to fruition?  They look up to you.  The come to you for advice.  They seek your wisdom.  They trust you with their imaginings, their feelings, their hopes.  Will you be there for them?

And if your own dreams haven’t yet come true, are you ready to let them begin?

By Sonia Dabboussi

Paralysis is Certain

Limiting Beliefs

I had a student a few years back who was deathly afraid of red pens.  Not exactly in the phobia sort of sense, but if you happened to touch his page with a red pen while you were pointing out a correction he would yell and cry.  He’d panic, and then stop everything he was doing and focus all of his attention on that dot.  He’d struggle to erase it or draw on top of it so no one would see it.  Life wouldn’t go on for him until the red was no longer visible.

Why?  Because he needed to be certain that he was doing the right thing.  He needed to know that his answers were correct, and red pen marks made him unsure.  And this child was only six years old.  If he remained that way as he grew, what would the rest of his life be like?

The story below is one I wrote a while back that you can share with your students.  Perhaps it will help some, like my red pen friend, to take a few risks and reach out beyond themselves to be, do and have more in life.  Perhaps you can help your children get past certainty-paralysis to really see, and explore, the possibilities life has to offer.

Rock Solid?  

Imagine this… You have passed back through the ages to the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. You have traveled on your camel for days in search of the knowledge that this one man possesses, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Upon arriving at your destination, you meet a generous family who is willing to open its doors to you and provide you with food and shelter for as long as you wish to remain in the city, alhamdu lillah. When you reach their home, you are directed as to where you can allow your camel to rest during your stay. You dismount, exhausted and famished from your long journey, and begin carefully gathering rocks from the ground around you. One by one, feeling them heavier and heavier as you collect them, you stack them on top of one another in a large square until they stand as tall as you. Finally, with your camel securely within his stone wall, you enter the family’s safe haven to gain some much desired food and water.

Huh?

As strange as the ending of this story may sound, we often find ourselves doing, in essence, the very same thing in our lives. We want certainty to such a great extent that we are willing to do things that don’t even make sense in order to get it. Just as this person wanted the security of knowing that his camel would remain in the same place until his return, we want the security of knowing that our decisions and choices in life will produce the results we want.

So what do we do? We plan and plan but never act. We fill our days with tasks that don’t move us forward but keep us securely where we are now, even though that may not be where we want to be. We delay making choices, waiting for the perfect, and certain, opportunity to arise. But of course it doesn’t.

We need certainty and predictability in our lives because in its absence we are left with only chaos, but at the same time we need variety and ‘spice’ to keep our lives in motion. And that spice comes from taking steps forward when the way is not 100% certain.

One day our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).

We have to do our part, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for our communities. And sometimes that means not knowing completely what the outcome of our actions will be when we take them.

As we move forward, we may feel that the path in front of us is perhaps scary and unknown, but seeking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s guidance and trusting in Him gives us the certainty of knowing that He will be there with us all the way.

By Sonia Dabboussi