Genuine selfhood

“Man’s genuine selfhood is recognizable only in what is good and true.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

I saw something this afternoon that nearly brought me to tears.

I’ve been working really hard on knowing what is good and true about a particularly difficult student. I don’t always succeed in seeing it, but I’m looking for it.

The effort paid off today, when I appealed to this student’s sense of genuine selfhood as a means of eliciting cooperation on an assignment.

Rather than mentioning grades or class requirements to get the student to do the work, I talked about the possibility that a writing assignment on the student’s chosen topic might help someone else. This possibility evidently hadn’t occurred to the student, who proceeded to spend the rest of the hour diligently taking notes.

Threats and cajoling have never worked with this kid. But in asking the student to help someone else, I appealed to the student’s sense of genuine selfhood — which, in turn, revealed what was good and true about that self.