A young boy, Brad Cohen, born with a disability that made him make involuntary loud noises at random, struggled with the kind of attention he got from this. He was often reported to the principal at school because his teachers thought he made those noises on purpose. His dad would be so angry with him because he thought he made the noises just for attention. This tainted the relationship he had with his dad and his love for school. No one could really understand what he was going through except him but his mom was patient with him. Even with the hatred he had for school, he wanted to be a teacher.
It was later discovered that he had Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Syndrome, is a condition of the nervous system. It causes people to have “tics” (tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly). People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things and this explained why he couldn’t control the noises like everyone thought he could.
This discovery changed his life forever. They found out that it had no cure and one had to live with it forever.
He wanted to be a teacher. He wanted to change the system of how children learnt in school. He wanted them to have a better experience and love for school than he did. The diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome posed as a road-block to achieving this. The people in the TS support group seem to have been drowned and defeated by this diagnosis. They felt the disability was now in control of them and had defined their life.
Here’s how Brad took charge and it’s also something we could learn from.
Brad knew how difficult it would be to achieve his dream with the diagnosis. His father even criticized his decision. People thought he was building castles in the air with this dream. No one could imagine having a teacher with TS teaching students in class. People thought he was reaching, even his dad. He even lost confidence in finding love. But all these criticisms and discriminations were as a stepping stone to achieving his dream.
He went through school with this diagnosis and when he was to find a job in a school, it was like TS was sending missiles his way. It was difficult even with a great portfolio. He would often tell the interviewer before the interview started about his disability to get it out of the way, or he would wait till he made noises before explaining he had TS to them, either way it wasn’t looking good for him. There were no call backs.
He decided to write an exam that he needed to apply for his Masters and on the day of the exam it was a huge drawback for him. He wasn’t provided the special centre for his disability even though he indicated that he was disable and when he finally got the special centre, because TS was really distracting for him, the time allotted for the exam wasn’t enough and so he failed the exam. He eventually went on to work for his dad while waiting for a callback from any of the schools he interviewed in for a job. His dad at this time thought a construction job would be best for him but Brad wasn’t having it. Brad was only doing this job in the interim to pay his bills and fend for himself. His eyes were still on the price and that was to become a teacher.
Eventually, he had a breakthrough and he got a call-back from one of the schools. More interviews were conducted and most seemed concerned about his TS diagnosis. After these interviews were conducted, he was employed. Finally, his dream of becoming a teacher had been actualized and his daddy seeing this decided to be more supportive of him.
Brad worked hard on being the best teacher to his students. He was in it for the knowledge he’d imbibe into his students and the love his students would have for education than for what he’d gain.
He even gave dating a try and met the most amazing lady he could ever imagine and, of course, he fell in love and they got married.
Brad’s passion for his job and career didn’t go unnoticed as he was nominated for the teacher of the year award and eventually won.
Brad learnt to live with TS, dominated and won the battle with TS. Even though TS has no cure, Brad didn’t let it define who he wanted to be and how he wanted to live his life.
From this movie, Front of the Class, we can learn the following:
- Accepting things in your life that can’t change and navigating life with it.
- Create a vision for yourself
- Break your goals into bits to achieve them easily.
- Overcome limiting beliefs by declassifying yourself from such.
- Don’t live by other people’s definition of who you are.
- Take responsibility and make better choices for your life with your goals in mind.
- Put in effort to achieve your goals
- Believing negative report gets you nowhere.