Colin Walsh/ Personal Journal Entry
by Colin Walsh
Blog: May 17, 2012
Yesterday, as I was sitting in my cube studying, a bald headed man came storming in proclaiming. “Yo, guess what. I took the pre GED test and the teacher told me, in front of the entire class, that the essay I wrote was the best in the class.” I wasn’t surprised. This man’s name is David.
David approached me a few months ago and asked me, “Hey I hear your pretty good at writing. Can you help me write my GED essay?” Without hesitation, I said sure, meet me here tomorrow at noon. Tomorrow came and noon passed, he didn’t show. I hunted him down and asked, “David, what happened?” He told me he was playing ping pong. I told him, “Listen, if you want to pass this essay, you have to practice, not play ping pong. I gave him another chance.
The next day David showed up pen and paper in hand. I wanted to see where we were starting from so I gave him a prompt and let him write. Almost two hours later David was finished with a single page, three paragraph essay. The thesis was non- existent, the points weren’t pertinent, the supporting paragraphs were in-coherent. Spelling and grammr errors were vast and plentiful, and the conclusion ran on and on. I told David, “I don’t want to be mean, but you have a lot of work to do, you are going to have to practice every day.” I could see the disappointment in his face. David left with his essay that had more red ink than blue.
The next day David didn’t show up, nor the next. I assumed David gave up. But months later, David approached me again. He said “Listen, I have the pre test coming up in a month, I need to practice, I am serious now.” I explained that he would have to practice every day. He agreed. We started to practice again, I gave him another prompt to write. Two hours later he finished. His writing didn’t improve. I took my red pen and critiqued every trivial mistake. Again he was discouraged. I looked him in his eyes and said,” David, no one ever became the best at something without practice.” I know David likes street bikes, so I asked him, “When you first got on a bike, were you good at it?” He said, “No.” I asked, “Then after months of practice you were doing wheelies, going 100 mpg right?” He smiles and said, “yeah.” So I asked,”What is the difference?” He didn’t answer but I could tell he got it. I said,” Here take this and rewrite this, correct the errors and bring it back to me.” The next day he brought it back, it was better but not good. We discussed it sentence by sentence, word by word, I explained everything to him. After that I gave him another prompt. He wrote another essay, I critiqued it, and told him to correct it. Next day, he brought it back corrected, and we discussed it. Day after day we completed this process. And slowly his writing improved. Then the day of the test game. He went in with confidence and wrote the best essay in the class.
I didn’t write this story to brag. I wrote it to show on a very small scale what a prisoner can accomplish with a little effort. David wasn’t any different than anyone else in the class. If anything, he was further behind. But with a little effort and against the odds he became the best of his peers.
David was very proud. He told twenty other people after me. It feels good to be the best at something, and he earned the right to brag.