In February I shared with you how our family watched movie that profoundly affected all of us.

Here’s what I wrote:

Last year we bawled through, er watched the made-for-tv movie, Gifted Hands, the story of Ben Carson. I might be the only adult believer who hasn’t read the book yet… and I am asking myself why this is so. I cannot believe I haven’t read this inspiring biography. If you haven’t watched this movie with your children then please, run out to the video store and hire it. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, well I won’t say anymore.   This movie has affected me so profoundly… but time will tell, won’t it. (Maybe I’ll write how this movie and book has affected our parenting and homeschooling style)

Ben Carson was a difficult student, in his own words. He and his brother, were raised by their mother in poverty. She worked very hard to be a good example and she urged them to get a good education. She believed they could change their circumstances… they need not be destined to a life of poverty. She knew that if they could have a good education then they could have a better life.

No, she didn’t pay exorbitant amounts of money for private tutoring. In fact, she herself could not read! But she did limit their t.v. viewing to three shows per week and insisted that they read two books from the library each week. They also had to write a book report on each one.  As Dr. Carson recalls,

“But, she didn’t dictate what we had to read. And, as I began to read, I discovered one very important thing: Even though we had no money — no money for anything, between the covers of those books, I could go anywhere in the world; I could be anybody; I could do anything. My horizons began to open up.”

Sonya Carson also insisted that Ben memorise his time tables after school, before he could go out to play. She encouraged her sons to persevere… to try harder, to strive for excellence. I got the impression that she wasn’t oppressive… she wasn’t  a Tiger Mom, just incredibly persistent, determined and encouraging.

“Learn to do your best, and God will do the rest.”

~Sonya Carson

The movie, the life story of Ben Carson also challenged my eldest son. All this year he has applied himself diligently to his studies. You see, we have been free-range homeschoolers. Unschoolers, natural learners… whatever you want to call it. Anything but consistent and diligent in formal seatwork learning. I always believed that once a person has the tools of learning, the most necessary ingredient after that is desire or motivation. I’ve always believed that most people will learn what they need when they want to.

I had wondered if my son saw his early learning years as a drawback. He had gone to cadets and quite possibly didn’t relate to the many years of study that all the other cadets had experienced. Watching the Ben Carson story, challenged him to aim high, (something I’ve always told him… but he needed that revelation for himself).  We talked after watching the movie. And he decided to set aside 3-4 hours per day to study. If you are a school-at-homer or insist that you children do this amount of bookwork daily, you probably don’t think that much of his decision. But this type of decision is so much better when it is self directed by a student who has been unschooled his whole life. I can see the influence of Ben Carson’s life upon him.

And, bear in mind that we watched this movie at the beginning of this year (2011). Lots of people write rave reviews after using a resource for a week… but  the influence of this story is still going strong, nearly ten months later.

I could give you a thorough review and tell you so much more… but I don’t want to pre-empt any of it. I don’t want to get between you and the movie. I want you to watch it with your family. If you have not seen the movie Gifted Hands or read Ben Carson’s biography, I encourage you to. It is a fantastic family movie.

There are lots of trailers and excerpts of the movie to view on youtube but here’s something I thought fellow home educators might enjoy. It is an interview with Dr. Ben Carson, American neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.