When I was in the 4th grade, I went from being a good student to being a dunce. For some reason, I couldn’t master long division. I fell to the bottom of the class in my teacher’s eyes and in my self-esteem. The harder I tried, the more my frustration grew, ending in fear. Then one night, I dreamed I could do long division with ease. The next morning I awoke, despairing the message was false. But when I got to school, I discovered I could do the math, and so well, my teacher set me the task of tutoring others.
I can’t explain how a night’s sleep worked a miracle, but, with my conscious mind shut off, I suspected my unconscious one went to work. My opinion has some data to support it. A recent study on creativity at the University of California in San Francisco shows ingenuity occurs when critical thinking become quiet and the shy maidens of genius feel brave enough to appear. (“Search for the spark of genius,” by Claudia Kalb, The Week, excerpted from National Geographic, June 23, 2017, pg. 37.)
Children of the wealthy thrive, not only because they are nurtured and have good connections, but also because their minds are free to focus on the nonessential. They don’t have to fight their way to school or worry their shabby clothes will make them outcasts. Parental anxieties don’t affect them: how to pay the rent or put food on the table. Privileged children have more time to dream. Sadly, this class bifurcation, has become institutionalized in the country. Because of it, we are saddled with a meritocracy that passes for democracy. (“America’s hidden class system,” Richard Reeves,” excerpted from The New York Times, The Week, June 23, 2017, pg.12.)
Because “Aha” moments seldom come to children who are anxious or hungry, I wonder that Washington D. C. leaders work so hard to tear holes in the safety net. Are we so a rich nation, we can afford to throw away the talents of more than a quarter of our children? How do these so-called thinkers fail to see the obvious? Give a poor child an opportunity — a dance class, a chess club, a science competition and see how wondrously he or she performs.
The children of the poor aren’t society’s burden. They are its potential riches. When a legislator makes proposals to deny children hot meals, or medical attention, or tutoring, I see these men and women as people without imagination. They focus on budget numbers but have forgotten the government’s mission. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
(Originally published 6/28/17)