Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (today) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday) are two big days for the school that I am currently teaching at. After all, it is named after him: King School. Today, we had a great speaker named Dion Jordan come talk to the students. He was very fun to listen to and took a bit of a different direction for a message than the stereotypical "dream big" speech that kids hear all too often.
He talked a little bit about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks in order to connect the message with overcoming obstacles and standing up for what is right. The main part of Dion's speech was about how he grew up as a cripple. Up until the age of 11, he went through having to use crutches and leg braces because his legs were crooked and his feet pointing inward. He also had trouble speaking and stuttered when he tried to talk in public. He talked about his life and how he overcame the disabilities.
One of the highlights was Dion asking the students to participate in an activity. He instructed them, "Raise your hand if you think you have confidence." Just about all of them raised their hands. He then told them to stand up if a question he asks pertains to them. He asked them, "Who here can sing?" and only six out of about 120 fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders stood up. "Who here can dance?" he asked them, with about 20 students standing up. "Who here can draw?" he inquired, and close to 40 students stood. The large majority of the students were still sitting. He told us that when he asked the kindergarteners the same questions, they all stood up waving their hands, saying "Ohh!! I love to sing! I'm the best dancer! I think drawing is so fun!"
Why have the majority of the older students lost their confidence? Dion explained that we (including adults) lose our confidence when we listen to people that say "You're no good at singing" or "Your drawing needs some work" and we really do believe them. And then we start telling ourselves the same things. When in reality, we can all sing, dance, and draw. Dion didn't ask them if they were professional dancers or artists. Anyone can draw a stick figure. The lack of confidence comes from when we don't believe in ourselves. That is the biggest obstacle in the way of us achieving our dreams.
Overall, Dion Jordan was a great speaker. He made me laugh many times. I felt like I was laughing the loudest out of all the teachers there. The kids loved him. I would definitely recommend checking out his books and read more about his life story. He seems like a great guy and he's from Portland too!