I first watched Aamir Khan in ‘3 Idiots‘ who did an excellent job acting in that film, so I discovered that he’s actually a big star in India and this film, ‘taare zameen par’ (translated to ‘Like Stars on Earth, Every Child is Special’) was one that he directed and starred in.
When initially watching the movie without knowing any background, I thought the child actor depicted above (Darsheel Safary who played Ishaan, an 8-year-old dyslexic child) was very troublesome and almost rude. I grew up seeing school as a place of discipline and that anyone who didn’t follow rules was ‘naughty’ or rather, ‘rebellious.’ However, as we begin to learn more about Ishaan, we realize he has a learning disability. Though, nobody understands him and thinks that he is lazy or stupid because he can’t get things right after trying so many times. Eventually, his dad gets very upset with his poor grades and that he failed grade 3 twice, so he sends him off to boarding school. There, he grows extremely depressed and even gives up his passion of drawing. You see, Ishaan loves to paint and when his mother hears that he doesn’t even paint anymore at his new school, she worries greatly for her son and feels like this is all her fault.
It was enlightening to watch a film like this, to know that they can portray how a child truly feels when they don’t understand, not because they aren’t trying, but because they confuse letters and numbers with similar patterns. When Ishaan meets the temporary art teacher, who we learn was also dyslexic, we are empowered to see how with the right support, a child who truly is very bright can grow.
School typically starts today (the day after Labour Day) in Ontario. Though this year, school starts on Thursday because the board requires more time to prepare given the COVID pandemic. But, this is the reason why I wanted to post about this movie today. As we enter the coming school year, I want all teachers (and even students) to remember the powerful quotes below. We all have something that makes us special and not everyone learns the same. Just because someone learns differently or takes longer to learn something, doesn’t mean they are incapable. Sometimes, it is these individuals who make the biggest difference in the world because they can see things in a different light compared to others.
- “There have been such gems amongst us who changed the course of the world because they could look at the world differently. Their thinking was out of the box and not everyone understood them. They were ridiculed. But despite that, they persevered.”
- “Life is really not about getting the top grades and competing with others. Don’t try stretching all your fingers. To win, each finger has to be pulled until it gets longer. Pull away until it finally breaks.”
- “On the Solomon islands, when the tribes need to clear the jungle to make way for fields, they don’t cut down the trees , they simply gather and collect around it, and hurl abuses at the tree, they curse it. Slowly but surely, after some days, the trees begin to wither. It dies on its own.”
- “If you want to win competitions, then breed race horses, don’t have kids.”
A troubled kid, a true-to-his-profession teacher, and an extraordinary moment of insight. This was what defined this movie. Remember a good education can change anyone, but a good teacher can change everything.
This movie has changed the way I view children with disabilities. I always used to see them as different, but not in a bad light, but different as in they need more support compared to other children. However, this movie made me realized that many children with learning disabilities could perhaps be much more brilliant. But why they struggle is because they are looking for someone to help them accept who they are so they can flourish and grow. It’s hard to gain confidence in yourself when others view your differences as something bad. This movie did a great job really putting yourself into the shoes of a dyslexic child and how others view him.
Children with dyslexia can read and write like any other child. You just need a lot of patience, but you will see improvement with time and support. After all, it’s believed that even Albert Einstein was dyslexic. Brilliance isn’t defined by your grades in school. I would definitely recommend teachers to watch this movie to gain an appreciation of all the differences each child brings into their classroom.