Remove the Label
I sat in my chair quietly next to my mom and dad as my grade 4 teacher Mrs. Shastri gave them an update on my progress at school~*
*“Nitin is what we call a slow learner” said Mrs. Shastri quietly.*
I held my breath and sank a little lower into my chair. I looked up at my dad to see if I was in trouble. My father glanced down, smiled and gave me a quick wink.
On the way home from the Parent- Teacher meeting, I thought about what Mrs. Shastri had called me – ‘Slow Learner’. Deep down I knew that what she really meant was that I was dumb.
Later that evening, my mom and dad came into my room carrying a piece of paper and a pen.
They sat down on the side of the bed and said, “Want to talk to you about what Mrs. Shastri said today.”
*I thought, I might still be in trouble for being a slow learner so I didn’t say anything.*
“Mrs. Shastri called you something today Nitin, do you know what it was?”
“A Slow Learner” I replied who had already taken the words to heart.
“That’s right” said my dad as my mother wrote the words ‘Slow Learner’ on the piece of paper.
“Do you know what this says?”
“Slow Learner” I replied nodding sadly.
My parents then held up the piece of paper in front me and purposefully tore it into two.
My eyes widened in surprise.
“Mrs. Shastri was wrong” said my parents as they continued to tear the paper into smaller and smaller pieces.
*“You’re not a slow learner.”*
“No, and starting tomorrow, you and we are going to show that Mrs. Shastri was wrong, OK?”
“OK” I hugged my mom, snuggled down into my pillow and fell asleep with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart.
*From that day on, my parents spent one hour per day helping me with my reading and writing. By the end of the year, I was doing much better at school and interestingly no one ever labeled me a ‘Slow Learner’ again.*
My parents knew that when a child receives a label from a person in authority such as a teacher or parent, they often take that label to heart and *it becomes a part of their self- identity for the rest of their lives.*
To avoid this from happening to their son, my parents created a tangible representation of the ‘Slow Learner’ label and tore it up it in front of me so that the label would not become a part of *child’s self-concept.*
Today I would like to thank my mom and dad *(though they were just 4th and 10th grade pass respectively)* and request you to do the same exercise. To begin, find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed and think about the labels that *people have given to you, your kids in the past and at present.*
Perhaps you were given a label by one of your parents, your teacher, your spouse or your boss. What is the label that resonates in your mind? Is there a label that has become part of your self identity *because a person in a position of authority gave it to you?*
If so, write this label down on a blank sheet of paper and hold it up to see it for what it really is – *A Label.*
*It is a label – nothing more. It is not part of you and you do not have to accept it as part of yourself identity any longer.*
As you begin to see the label for what it really is – *Rip it in half and enjoy the feeling of destroying the label once and for all.*
Believe me, it worked for me and definitely it will work for all of us. However you must work from *conscious incompetence to unconscious competence* by working smartly.
When you do this exercise, you will feel a surge of motivation to take action to ensure that no one attempts to give you this label again in the future.
Just as my parents took action and helped me with my school work, make sure you follow through and do whatever you need to do to eliminate the remnants of the label from your life forever.
*A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image*.