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Ready, Steady, Go

March 24, 2012

Today is the 24th March 2012, an important date for me. My protege Keegan is writing his scholarship exams for entry into Hilton and Michaelhouse in Kwa Zulu Natal in 2013. Keegan is also celebrating his 13th birthday today.

In the Jewish faith Keegan would be celebrating his early entry into manhood. I choose to acknowledge him as a young man as from today. I am truly proud of him. He has grown from man cub to young man.

We started out Tabla Rasa in August 2008. I did not fully understand what was in store for me and Keegan was clueless as to what was in store for him. What had given rise to our meeting as tutor and learner (my preferred word, “student) was Keegan’s poor marks in Afrikaans in the beginning of grade 4. His older sister (5 years his senior) was struggling with Afrikaans. Their parents were besides themselves as her poor marks in Afrikaans were lowering her overall aggregate. Her matric year was looming. Keegan had inadvertently taken on the bad attitude of his older sister towards Afrikaans.

Together the parents and I decided we would nip this in the bud. Keegan would start his extra Afrikaans lessons. I wrote many little notes all over the household to stimulate his Afrikaans “Woordeskat”.  Everywhere Keegan looked there was an Afrikaans sticker…i.e seep, handdoek, kas, lig, deur. The language had become”visible”.

At first Keeg’s tried to please me, when that didn’t work he “resisted” me and the twice weekly Afrikaans  lessons.  Frankly I saw his  intelligence potential. I am by nature  “tenacious”. I relentlessly pursued Keegan’s ability to master the language. Before my very eyes I became, “horns and a tail”. I wrote copious notes to Keegan’s mother with feedback both the good and bad soliciting her support. I got 100% support from her.

The first three months of phonetics were difficult. My Afrikaans tutoring sessions were relentness. By September 2008 Keegan showed signs of turning the corner. His mother and I began to cultivate discipline into his routine. He tried to wheedle out of it but again we were adamant.  In 2009 Keegan and I began the upward journey of aiming for the summit. Now not only was he to master the foundations of the Afrikaans language, we were aiming at mastering the higher functioning aspects of learning, such as reciting words,  rote learning woordeskat and tempering his still normal child-like behaviour. In addition it was necessary to deal with the inevitable distractions of a young, highly intelligent boy who was smitten with “Runescape” (a benign computer game).

In 201o Keegan and I began to gel in ways I can only say stem from the many graces I received in having the privilege to work with such a decent, kind, compassionate, able and willing student. Keegan began to sense my belief in him. Simultaneously I began to grow my own belief in myself, with a lot of support from Keegan’s mother. Now Keegan was looking for challenges in the tutoring sessions and I obliged him at every turn.

In 2011 on the understanding it would be my last year to tutor Keegan, we both stayed the course and reached for greater heights and more achievements. It was an emotionally charged moment when Keegan went on stage to receive his academic colours and his Certificate of Merit for achieving 94% for Afrikaans at the end of grade 6. The hard work had paid off  handsomely.

Magnamiously another year of  “seeing Keegan through his senior primary school year” was added.

Today as my thoughts linger on Keegan sitting those scholarship exams in Kwa- Zulu Natal,  I know that I have helped to cultivate an acorn into a budding oak tree. The years of tutoring have been gracious. The knowledge is inside you Keegan. It goes to the very roots of your being.



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