In Chapter 4 we learn that ol' Maud had lost her sense of smell, but still had great eyesight and good ears. Granpa explained that, "...this gave her something she could do and take pride in knowing she was of worth. Granpa said if a hound or anybody else has got no feeling of worth, then it's a bad thing" (p. 21-22).
How true this is for students. I once had a student who was in my class for a second time (having failed the first time around) and was again failing miserably. He refused to turn in work and enjoyed trying to distract other students or disrupt the class with inappropriate comments. He would frequently try to read automotive magazines in class and fancied himself as a bit of a mechanic. One day I had a very self-serving, yet highly effective idea. I asked if he would replace the alternator in my truck during class. He was thrilled at the opportunity. I began class as usual and he set out to the parking lot with some tools. He was back in no time announcing to all how easy of a task it was. In thanking him I mentioned to the class that there was no way I could have made the repairs on my own and that I sincerely wished I had the skill and knowledge to complete such a task.
I was thankful to have saved myself the time or money that would have been necessary in fixing the problem on my own, but was even more thankful at how this special assignment seemed to turn this student around. Suddenly he participated in class, treated others with respect, and became a productive part of the class. I believe the transformation came about because he felt, much like ol' Maud, that he was of worth. I have since seen similar changes in countless students. Truly everyone desires to feel needed, valued, and appreciated. Throughout this book we will have the opportunity to see how Granpa continuously helps Little Tree create a strong and genuine sense of self-worth. It is one of the many things that we can each incorporate into our teaching practice which will be of great benefit to our students.