Every Tuesday morning our municipality collect our dirt. Competing with them for the contents of the wheelie bin are a dozen or so vagrants that start their rounds early each day. This army on-the-move is announced by the distinctive sounds of trolley wheels (scratching the road surface) that are their mode of transport. No one pays particular attention to them, other than when they spill the contents of the bins onto the road or sidewalk. They normally get scolded when this happens. Furthermore, I often notice how they are generally ignored lest they ask the homeowners for something.
But pay careful attention to these scavengers of others' waste. They are very meticulous in their scurrying. They sift junk not looking for junk. And when they find nothing on their list, the lid of the bin is often slammed close in disgust.
Why am I relating this to you? Two reasons.
(1) For more than a week we have been searching high-and-low for my wife's access card. We had reach the point of declaring it lost and seeking a replacement. This morning our regular bin digger was doing his normal trawling of our bin. He greeted, as normal, and we reciprocated. This is the extent of our exchange each week. I know nothing about him, but I suspect he knows a lot about me, given his weekly rummaging.
Forty minutes after we left home, I returned. Our bin had been emptied and was standing in front of our gate. I moved it back to its normal spot and on closing the gate, noticed a plastic card neatly lodged between the burglar-gating. It was the access card we were searching for. Our bin digger had discovered it in our trash and returned it to us, without fanfare.
What is the point here? Simply, be slow to judge others or their behaviours without getting to know them first or understand the circumstances of their life's journey.
(2) Yesterday the NSC results for 2013 were signed off by Umalusi. By next week we will know what the achievement levels are nationally, per province, district, school and learner. A mass interrogation will commence to explain successes or justify failure. Experts will tell us what we already know - we must work harder; average is not good enough! There is nothing wrong with this - introspection is important, but be very careful to condemn learners or judge schools, before you also make the effort to understand their realities and made your contribution to positively impact on them or helped them to realise their worth.
You see, as with dirt trawlers, we quickly judge and classify failure, but have we actually unlocked their potential or do we look down on them because they remind us of our failure as an education system? My appeal - don't look down on schools that have not achieved; rather, embrace the opportunity to help them lift-their-game.