August 24, 2019
Guest Contributor “Cherish the Children“: Helene Jarmol Uchida, a former New York junior high and high school English teacher, is an EFL expert in Japan. She is the owner of Little America, Inc.
I just finished reading the book I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani teen-ager who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban. As you all know, because she was an advocate for the education rights of girls in Pakistan, the Taliban sought to silence her. Instead, she not only survived gunshots to her head, but also blossomed into a world-famous crusader for the rights of children. She was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
How fortunate that most of us English teachers live in peaceful countries where all children are entitled to an education. Even though the countries in which we are dispersed may differ in varying degrees from Pakistan, I cling to the words Malala used to conclude her speech at the United Nations:
One child, one teacher, one pen and book
can change the world.
This simple yet profound sentence pierced my heart. Although we, as teachers, have no way of knowing when or where a future Malala, Nelson Mandela, Ricky Martin, Marie Curie, Ichiro Suzuki, Aung San Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel, Julio Iglesias, Sophia Loren, Gabriel García Márquez or Desmond Tutu may be sitting before us in one of our English classes, we should treat all our students, young and seasoned, inquisitive and uninterested, diligent and lazy, wise and naive, with respect and admiration.
There may be (most likely is) a student within the confines of our classrooms who will blossom and grow to make great contributions not only to his or her own country, but also to the rest of the world. The fact that, in part, because of our tutelage, this child will be able to speak English as an adult may well be the catalyst to boost the circumference of his or her impact and boundless influence in the future.
We may see a glimmer of their greatness in their youth, or it may be concealed from us. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I encourage you to appreciate all the young souls who sit before you. Please look into their eyes and recognize, appreciate and respect that the possibilities from within them are vast, endless and infinite.
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Guest Contributor: Helene Jarmol Uchida, a former New York junior high and high school English teacher, is an EFL expert in Japan. She is the owner of Little America, Inc., which operates two English schools in Fukuoka, an English materials Book Store (nationwide) and conducts teacher-training seminars through its NPO Affiliate, TEMI (Teaching English Methods Institute). Uchida has written several EFL books for children and adolescents, the most popular of which is “The Challenge Book”. She has been a regional correspondent for two leading English newspapers in Japan, namely “The Japan Times” and “The Japan News”; the later featured her column “Primary Advice” which focused on how to teach English to Japanese children. She has lectured at five universities in Fukuoka and has been a guest speaker for several Japanese Boards of Education. Uchida firmly believes EFL and ESL should be more experiential, and she stands by her motto, “Never underestimate the ability of a child.”