Sunday, January 23, 2011

Idolizing One Man

We're getting ready to read the Young Reader's Edition of Three Cups of Tea. I first read the adult version last summer, and was inspired and excited to read it with my students.

I teach at a school that emphasizes social justice; as we discussed in class last week, the school itself was founded as an act of social justice. We work every day to bring a high-quality education to a traditionally under-served population.

But our school wasn't started by a bunch of people from the outside coming in and "saving" the community, it was started by a group of parents, teachers, and community members who wanted something better for their children.

We're reading this book in part to bring a better understanding of and appreciation for the work being done in our community, and to help our kids see what it takes to change the world.

So it bugs me when I see the awe and reverence with which people regard Greg Mortenson. His work and accomplishments are undeniable, but when I heard him speak last October, he made it clear that it's really not just "one man's mission," as the book's tagline states. My school wouldn't have been started without a group of passionate, dedicated people, and students in northern Pakistan would still be scratching in the dirt without parents and community leaders who were sacrificed and took risks and carried heavy supplies up steep, muddy hills.

I'm worried about how my students will interpret the idolatry they will find when they start looking around the Internet for information. Will they be able to filter out the hero worship?