Teaching from the Blind Side

by Allan Soo . April 11, 2010

It has been quite an interesting time of transition and paradigm shift from teaching in Singapore to teaching in Perth. It’s been exciting, challenging, mind-boggling and a whole mix bag of different emotions.



The Blind Side was a timely watch. It showed me that education is about second chances.


In the true-life story, Big Mike (Michael Oher) was enrolled in a Christian college for his potential in the sporting arena. However, he had not received much formal education and struggled through his academic classes. Even though many of the teachers did not think he had what it took to survive the year, there was one teacher who kept an open mind and kept looking for the raw gem underneath. In the end, Michael Oher not only scored the required Grade Point Average of 2.52 to participate in the college football team, but he also went on to win a football scholarship and to eventually be drafted to play for the Baltimore Ravens. This is all because he was given a second chance by people who see beyond appearances.


Australia is an extremely blessed country filled with abundant natural resources. This avails tremendous number of opportunities to the kids to pursue different academic routes and career paths. The options included the traditional University-bound academic route; industry-focus TAFE pathway to learn a trade; seminary course that prepares pupils to enter into Christian ministry.


My initial focus and attention was very much in the academic arena. I often over-prepared the materials for classes. It took me a while to start to relax and see beyond academic achievements. I find myself emphasizing values like integrity, honesty, etc and enjoying their growth as individual young adults.


Examinations have become just a means to an end. Academic results are no longer deemed as the sole objective measure of the pupils’ worth. It was as much a learning experience for myself, endeavouring to be an archaeologist of sorts to discover, unearth and polish the pupils’ potential.


Big Mike was assessed with low abilities in most areas, but he scored 98% in protective instincts. This was the attribute which his adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy highlighted to the football coach to exploit. This recognition and development of his specific strength resulted in a breakthrough as Big Mike transformed from a novice to a star player. Due to the inclusive policy, I teach a widely diverse class, which is radically different from the previous homogeneous classes of would-be scholars. Classroom management has not been Management 101. There is no one size fits all approach to the different members of the class. I need to remind myself to look for the individual positives and reinforce them. Perhaps the students may not change in the process, but I know that I had changed. It motivates me to think that within our ranks lies the next Senior Pastor, song leader, musician, athlete and even more so, a good neighbour and a responsible member of society. The thought that teachers’ positive interactions and inputs with them right now when they are under our watch and the numerous positive outcomes that can follow gives me great inspiration to journey on.


Michael Oher ultimately fulfilled his dreams to play professional football, and the faith of his adoptive family and various mentors was duly rewarded. As believers, we embrace the Great Commission when we channel through the second chances which the Lord presents to us. Is there a Michael Oher in your very own mission field today?