Today we had a full corps meeting, as we do every friday and during some work time a co-worker of mine, D.J. brought up a story that I thought would be fun to share with you.
D.J. first told this story at a professional development session that he attended at his school which was addressing the concept of tracking in schools. Many schools now will assign their students to various tracks: a college prep track made up of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes and a regular or non-college bound track with regular or even remedial classes. In the meeting, someone asked: "Does academic tracking perpetuate segregation in education?" D.J. replied that it does not have to, but only if both tracks have similar expectations and a set of future plans. The college track gives students a set of defined goals and ways to achieve them. The 'regular' track, however, does not provide it's students with any rigid expectations, or plans for the future. D.J. believes that the best solution would be one where expectations are appropriately high and understandably clear for all tracks.
To illustrate his point, D.J. told this story:
There was a monastery in the mountains of Thailand that was once considered an attractive order to be a part of. It contributed a lot to the well being and spirituality of the community around it. Recently, however it had become a dying order. Monks and Nuns were leaving in droves and the spiritual vitality of the community was dwindling.
The head Abbot of the monastery decided to visit a Rabbi of a successful and vibrant community to seek some guidance. The Abbot told the Rabbi that he was worried about the future of his monastery. The Rabbi replied: 'That's just terrible, and too bad because I heard from an Abbot nearby that a member of your monastery is about to become the next to be enlightened, so it would be a shame for it to die out." Surprised, the Abbot thanked the Rabbi for his time and headed back to his monastery.
When the Abbot returned to the monastery he shared the Rabbi's news with the community. Everyone was surprised to hear that the next to become enlightened was among them, but mostly returned to their normal lives.
As time went on, the members of the monastery started treating one another a little differently- thinking that maybe the other was supposed to be the next to become enlightened. And then they thought, wait, maybe it's me! So each individual started working harder on his/her spiritual development and soon the order was rebuilt and back to it's full vitality.
The moral of the story is that it does not matter whether or not someone in the order was about to become enlightened, the expectation that someone would was enough motivation to rebuild the order. When the members of the monastery could envision a future for themselves, they were successful.
According to D.J., if all students were able to aspire to a future they could envision, they would all be successful, regardless of what track they were assigned and whether or not they end up in college in the future.