Just keep swimming

By Kirstin Buick
27 October 2013

This week, one of the students made our blogger reassess some of the premature judgements she’d made.

Spending time on set during the shooting of Dream School was a pretty incredible experience for me as a young journalist. Not only did I meet many of the teachers, all of whom are movers and shakers in the country (and abroad), I also spent some time with 15 very interesting, very diverse teenagers.

And while I am happy to say I got to know most of them pretty well, there were a handful of them I didn’t spend much time with. Unfortunately, Tshepo was one of them. Initially the 19-year-old, who has yet to complete Grade 10, gave me the impression he wasn’t particularly interested in being at Dream School. When he was actually awake in class – which was less often than you may think – it didn’t seem as if he was really “there” anyway.

While watching yesterday’s episode, I had to rethink the opinion I had unwittingly formed of Tshepo.

It was the look on his face – the look of pure, unadulterated joy on that young man’s face when he danced … it was incredible. Could this talented, bright-eyed teen be the seemingly apathetic, detached Tshepo I had seen in the academic classes? And suddenly, presenter Anele’s voice echoed in my mind: “If you’re going to judge a goldfish on its ability to climb a tree …”

According to my trusty sidekick, Google, it was Albert Einstein who originally said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

When Anele quoted the German physicist in the first episode, she added, “But if you judge it on swimming, then it’s going to excel. So I think we need to find out what everyone’s ‘swimming’ is.”

And, oh boy, was this dance class Tshepo’s “swimming”. While the other Dream School kids floundered about in the shallow end – and some weren’t even willing to dip their toes into the water – Tshepo frolicked in the deep end.

As I’m having fun with Anele’s metaphor here, I’m reminded of last week’s show. In psychologist Esta Hattingh’s pottery class, Tshepo made a rhino to symbolise himself (see my previous blog to examine the significance of this). “But if you could change it and say, ‘Okay, I’d rather be …’,” Esta gently prompted the kids. “I’d love to be a dolphin,” Tshepo eventually responded with a grin.

And in that moment, in that dance class, he was.

-          KIRSTIN BUICK

YOU writer Kirstin Buick had a bird’s eye view of the goings-on on the set of Dream School. Keep up to date with her weekly blog for exclusive behind-the-scenes info. Follow her on Twitter for more.

Catch  MySchool Dream School every Sunday at 5 pm on M-Net, M-Net HD, Mzanzi Magic and M-Net Series Channel.

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