When I was a teacher at TAFE Colleges they asked the teachers who would like to go and teach in the prisons?
Because I studied criminology as part of my Masters Degree at the University of Oregon, I put my hand up when they were looking for a teacher to work in the prisons back here in Australia. I gave a great deal of thought to the program.
I walked in on the very first day and I looked every prisoner in the eye and I gave every one of those prisoners an ‘A’. Some of the prisoners were in tears at the beginning because they said that nobody ever in their lives had given them an ‘A’. I said, “giving you an “A” is the easy part. All you have to do is keep it.
The staff were blown away, but I was absolutely determined to make this concept work.
The irony of it is, I tested these guys every second week. I told them I’d have a little test for them. It was a difficult test, I made it tough. I made sure that each time I taught them, since I know men need competition in their lives, I would give them little tests about the heart rate, their fat ratios about whatever. There would always be something practical after we had studied the theory.
However, I taught them about themselves about their bodies, their bones and the way the muscles and mind work, every week we did something more. Do you know that they studied and studied?
I didn’t realize it, but it affected the whole prison. The guards were coming down and saying, who is this woman? These guys aren’t mucking up anymore they aren’t fighting anymore in the corridors. They want to know if they can buy minerals and good things for their bodies in their buy-up.
It had this amazing affect all through the prison. To cut a long story short, they all kept their A’s. I was in tears and they were tears. We’re not supposed to hug in prison, but we broke the law that day. They were over the moon. Every one of those prisoners kept their ‘A’.
For them to be handed an ‘A’ and then to just work towards keeping it – and I can tell you, it was a 14-page exam at the end, it wasn’t easy, but they did it! They kept on it, they believed they could keep it and they EXPECTED to keep it. It’s an amazing story and it’s true.