“Inspiration. Everybody uses the word frequently and without meaning.
Everybody talks about “wanting to make a difference” and inspire others either professionally or within their communities. Politicians use it and actually convince themselves that they will induce change. It is the theme of every commencement speech. It is a cliché used by pageant contestants, college applicants, and parents trying to motivate their children.
And yet, for the first time in my professional life, I am inspired.
I have seen determination and tenacity in young adults that is truly awe-inspiring. As an adjunct lecturer at both Kingsborough Community College (New York) and the College of Staten Island [both part of the City University of New York system, or CUNY], I sometimes teach remedial math for students who are lacking fundamental math skills for various reasons.
The vast majority of my students come to class anxious to overcome their ill-equipped backgrounds and to forge ahead with an unbridled determination that I find to be remarkable. Some are immigrants who learned math in a way that is anathema to the standardized testing that is now part of curriculum. They persevere and come in all types of weather from all areas of New York. ”
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