A healthy cry on Father's Day
Note: if you would like to watch the two videos below, I kindly ask that you do so on a computer or tablet if possible, with the sound turned up. If you’re on a mobile, I recommend that you use headphones and try to watch them all the way through without interruption. One is 2 minutes long, the other is 5 minutes.
It is Father’s Day today and I’d like to share a few things that have touched me recently.
The incredible story told by Nina Jackson at the Portobello Learning Festival last weekend took everyone in the audience on an unforgettable, emotional journey. Her story brought me to tears on several occasions and yet somehow managed to lift me up from the depths that it had taken me to and leave me with a sense of hope; from darkness to light. This set the scene for the week and was beautifully described by my dear colleague Penny in her personal blog post.
Since watching Nina’s talk, I have delivered workshops and presentations in Edinburgh, London, Cheshire, Somerset, Sheffield and Brighton, and at every one of these events tears were shed by participants - teachers, headteachers, CEOs and TAs; women and men.
Jeremy Hannay, tweeted earlier about having a “healthy cry” and encouraged others to do so. Pranav Patel re-shared one of his passionate blog posts about identity yesterday. These had an effect on me.
But the straws that broke the camel’s back (and inspired me to put pen to paper), were travelling to the airport with my dad earlier and happening upon a short video that I have shared on Facebook previously.
I invite you to watch the video below: an impassioned and heartfelt message filmed on a mobile phone by Javonne Clark a few years ago (warning: contains offensive language towards the end).
There’s a raw honesty about Javonne’s piece to camera that hits me straight in the heart. I can’t help but feel some of his pain, as I watch and listen to him. Not because I have had a similar experience, but because his powerful story gets under my skin and I empathise with him. I hear what he is saying. After the tears, there’s an important and optimistic message: “Go find you one”. Darkness and light.
His advice seems even more pertinent, after the tragic stabbing and shooting incidents that have happened in London over the last couple of days.
I’m fortunate enough to have seen my old man today, as he accompanied me to the airport this morning. He uses a walking stick nowadays because of his knee, but chose to go out of his way so we could spend some precious moments together. I appreciated this, as a son, and as a father myself. We had a long and tight embrace before I went through to security.
Paulina (my wife) told me that our son was quite teary when he woke up yesterday morning and when she asked him why, he said “I think I miss daddy.” I’m welling up as I write this, as I did when I hugged my dad earlier.
I am so lucky to have had a really good dad (and mum). Honest and kind people with integrity, who have always given me unconditional love. Parents, who have helped my brothers and I find a decent path through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. During their careers as teachers, they also generously shared their love and time with hundreds of other children, parents and colleagues.
As educators we come into contact with many children who do not get the love and support we all need and yearn for. Some of these children certainly do “attach” us as their parents in a similar way to Javonne and the young man he tells us about in the video.
When I set out to write this, I was only intending to publish a short thread with a link to Javonne’s video, but it seems right to also share the story below, which some of you would have seen on Lyfta.
I met Muhammed when he drove me to Helsinki airport in 2014. On the way, we had a long and memorable chat, which stayed with me for days. A couple of weeks later I bumped into him at the K-Market in Kamppi (a supermarket at a popular mall in Helsinki) and we had a chat. I explained that his story had affected me and asked for his telephone number. He probably thought I was a bit weird, but gave it to me anyway. I guess, as a documentary filmmaker, I am drawn to powerful human stories and perhaps I imagined that one day I might make a film about Muhammed’s story.
Two and a half years later (mid 2016), we were planning the production of Dinnertime 360, an immersive interactive documentary series about families from different cultures. I remembered Muhammed’s story and checked my phone to see if I still had his number. I did not. I then remembered that I was using an older handset when we had met and went through numerous boxes of crap until I found it. I was delighted to be able to retrieve his number and even more so that he remembered me when I called and agreed to have a coffee. At first, he was unsure about sharing his story, but after a couple of weeks he agreed. I am very grateful for this, because together we made what I think is one of the best short films I have ever been involved with.
I am not sure how long we will be able to keep this online, but while it is, I invite you to meet Muhammed and his daughter Amina and listen to their story. Please let us know what you think and feel free to share with colleagues who may find it useful or interesting.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, mothers, step-parents, foster parents, guardians and teachers. Your love and support is important for all of us.
by Serdar Ferit
Serdar is Co-CEO and creative director of Lyfta, where he draws from his experiences as an award-winning filmmaker, digital experience designer and teacher. Lyfta's mission is to support teachers with the best and most exciting tools to nurture the next generation of global citizens with critical skills and values to thrive in our changing world.