Many years ago I was asked by the London County Council, which was responsible for educating the children in inner London, if I would be willing to teach the youngest class in a school for “deprived” children. These youngsters were in the care of the state because their families had broken up. They lived in small cottages on an estate south of London, and they attended the school on the same campus every day. I accepted the position, but I found it very demanding and challenging.
I used the commute to work each day as an opportunity to pray to see these kids not as deprived of good, but as the loved children of God, as I’ve learned in Christian Science. I affirmed that they could be governed only by God’s law of harmony and were fully capable of expressing qualities that have their source in God, such as humility, joy, and intelligence. The Bible shows that Christ Jesus loved and respected children. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that when people brought children to the Master to be blessed by him, the disciples rebuked them, but Jesus responded, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (19:14). So as a modern-day disciple of Christ, I also needed to see my pupils in the light of Truth.
The first few weeks in my classroom were pretty chaotic. I had to speak over a cacophony of voices to get the children’s attention so that they could learn the simplest lessons, including basic manners such as respecting each other’s space. Instead of dwelling on their shortcomings, though, I began to see the potential that each one of my pupils had, just as in nature each bud has within itself the ability to open up and show its full beauty. Eventually they learned how to write their own names, which helped them better understand that they had their own unique identity and individuality. When it took one sweet little girl nearly a year to be able to write her name, the day she wrote it the whole class rejoiced with her in the accomplishment. Her smile that day was unforgettable! The children’s best efforts in writing and drawing soon found their way to a large notice board, where they were displayed with well-earned stars beside them.