"Why isn't school important?" Mark asked, to which came the plain-spoken response, "I'm going to either be in jail or dead in a few years anyway. Why would these next few years of school matter?"
This hit Mark in the gut. The idea that a 16-year-old saw a future so bleak, that there was no point in even trying.
It made sense, though. In David's neighborhood, the young men joined gangs and eventually ended up with just that future—in jail or dead. Attending classes, graduating from high school didn't really mean anything. It didn't change the inevitable.
For the first time, David looked confused. This was his life. He never thought he had a choice.
He had to help David dream, Mark realized. David, and kids like him, don't instinctively dream of failing. They're taught that inadvertently or intentionally, through life experiences and the reactions to them. Our job, Mark thought, is to help them remember their dreams and help them believe they can accomplish those dreams.
"If you had another option, what would you want to do?" Mark asked David. "Where would you want to be in five years? Then the question is, how do we help you get there?"
Pamela is a treasured staff editor for RTC who has contributed to nearly a dozen books including Classroom Heroes, Not Your Mother's Hysterectomy, Chasing Hope, and an entire slate of books in production.