Our WE Walk for water yesterday was a roaring success and I am not talking about the amount of money we raised! Miss Molly will follow up on that once everything is totaled. Before we left for our walk we had a talk with students that it was going to be hot and most likely wasn’t going to be easy. We set a goal for each student to walk ten laps around the fountain- a little over a mile. We had some students walk up to 25 laps! Every student walked more than the required 10. We had an added challenge to carry a water jug for one lap. The jug I had brought in weighs just over 40 pounds when full. For our walk I filled it about halfway, between 20-25 pounds if I were to guess. The jug is large and awkward to carry.
When I presented this challenge to the students I thought I would have a handful that wanted to try to do one lap with the jug. To my surprise we had nearly everyone attempt it! There were a few who didn’t and I congratulated them on knowing their limits- this is very important in life. For those that did carry the jug I walked the lap with them.
It was on these laps that I had the most amazing conversations. About ten steps in students realized how difficult it was to do. Despite trying to carry it multiple different ways it didn’t get easier. The further they walked with the jug the weaker they got, the more breaks they required. While on these laps every student who carried the jug made the same comment. Something along the lines of, “I can’t believe that people have to do this everyday.” To which I would comment, they often do it multiple times a day. I also heard, “This is so heavy and way harder than it looks.” to which I would comment, yes, imagine doing it with a jug double the weight, with no lid, the water can not splash around. On top of that imagine carrying forty pounds of water with no shoes or inadequate shoes over rough terrain.
When I made these comments I saw the wheels turn in their minds as they struggled to carry the water jug. There was a moment of realization that it was very difficult and then a moment of, I am going to do this all on my own. Believe it or not, not a single student accepted my offer to help them carry the jug (one student asked me to hold his pants up while he carried the jug! :)). Every single one of them was determined to carry it on their own no matter how many times they had to set it down and pick it back up. I was absolutely amazed. Once we let students know they had earned access to the fountain for the remainder of the day a few students who had not yet had a turn with the jug chose to wait for their turn before joining the fun with classmates.
Us teachers are so fortunate to have such empathetic students. In my opinion, it is not something you can teach. You can provide students with opportunities to see how others live (and struggle) but ultimately it is up to them to react to the lesson/situation. Many props to all of you parents. If/when you question if your parenting techniques are right/wrong in a world of constant judgement take solace in the fact that your child has a heart of gold and despite living a very nice life they are able to empathize for those less fortunate with zero hesitation.