10-second review: The story of Dmitry, an exchange students from Russia, a teacher trainee, whose last gift was to make the teacher and other members of the class remember how precious each individual is.
Title: “Dmitry’s Last Gift.” G. Lynn Nelson. English Journal (July 2008), p. 17. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary: Dmitry wrote about a childhood experience that suggested he was thinking of committing suicide—as a way to achieve his personal freedom. It was a beautifully written piece. Before the author, his teacher, could return it to him, Dmitry had committed suicide. His loss reminded everyone in the class just how precious is each individual life and personality.
Comment: A number of people have suggested over the past few years that the best way to explain teaching to people who are not teachers is to tell stories of experiences that help to define teaching. This story is one of them. But this story is also a reminder to teachers about what their purpose in teaching really is. My summary does not do it justice. I think this story should be required reading in all teacher-training classes. It will remind teachers that each and every person in class is unique. I admit to forgetting that. And it makes all the difference in the world. RayS.