This poem was written by one of the most influential people I have ever had the pleasure to know. If you were lucky enough to have met him you were better for it. I was sad to learn that he had passed away.
I’ll keep this poem to remind me why I became a teacher.
Patricia Payne Lightbourn
Thank you for the wonderful comments about Braz. I am his granddaughter and wanted to let you know that he passed away yesterday morning. For details about the services, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
By Ambrose E. Brazelton, W.B.G.
In the Phi Delta Kappan of Feb. 73
Are some glossed over facts of modern history.
It speaks of several persons of fortune and fame.
Who were initially indicted as hopelessly plain.
The first name of prominence bombarding my mind,
Is the relativity genius, Albert Einstein.
Was four years old before he spoke,
Didn’t read til seven (and that’s no joke).
The Lord was the first to say, “Let there be light.”
But Thomas A. Edison was outta sight.
Tis odd that his products continue to burn,
Though his teacher lamented “He’s too stupid to learn.”
Winston Churchill, God rest his soul;
A statesman of honor; courageous and bold.
We know of his virtue, the history he made,
But didya know that this leader failed the 6th grade?
A newpaper editor was quick to fire
A young man whose talents he could not admire,
“Not one good idea is his primary fault,
Void of potential is this Disney named Walt.”
“Dear teacher, wake up! What is your gripe?
Who empowered you to stereotype?
I’m labeled disabled, unstable, unfit,
I’m graded, berated, persuaded to quit!”
“Your system discourages, renders me numb!
What right have you to consider me dumb?
When concepts confuse me and I can’t dig it,
Your attitude tags you a Social Bigot!”
Wake up! Perceive! Too long have we dozed!
TEACHER BEHAVIOR humanely imposed
Must be flaunted with zeal and deliberate haste,
Cause the mind is a terrible thing to waste!
We love you, BRAZ!!!!
Note by Artie: Braz graduated way back when. I remember a discussion we were having about teaching, being scared, over-coming obstacles, etc. Braz was quiet for a long time, then said – “You think that was challenging,” he said replying to a second year PE teacher’s lament. “Try taking a social dance class in the 50’s – and being the only male – a Black man at that!”