‘I Want to be the First…’


A couple of weeks ago, I saw probably one of the most amazing films I have ever come across; ‘Hidden Figures’. It is about “The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.”

This film for me exemplifies all that #WomenED and #BAMEed are working on, now. In 2017.

Equality, equity, diversity.

Through these movements, I have heard and read about the most amazing phrases coming out of these grassroots movements…

“You can’t be, what you can’t see!”


“Be bold for change!”


The ladies in Hidden Figures became what they could not see by being bold for change! Aside from the film being cinematically superb, I was completely shocked, saddened and worried as to why I had never heard of these amazing women. Why did I not know about them? Why did my history lessons not teach me about the significant change these ladies have brought to many people’s lives?

In particular, I was totally blown away by the scene hereWhich I must admit, I have now watched quite a few times! I often fall into a dream like state whilst watching movies like these and try to put myself into the characters’ shoes. Being, Asian and Muslim, current the only privilege I have over those and others is the fact that I am male. I try my best to consider what she would have been feeling attempting to do what she did.

“Your Honor,” Jackson says, “Out of all the cases you’re going to hear today, which one is going to matter one hundred years from now? Which one is going to make you the first?”


You could see in the judge’s eyes how he was moved by the fact that he has the chance to be the first. How he can make a difference.

Which made me then think about a cover letter I wrote very recently, about being ‘The First.’ I wrote about the fact that I am the first to go to university in my ENTIRE family. Both here in England and Pakistan. Along with being ‘The First’ Ali to have stepped into the teaching profession from all of the generations of the Ali family!


I went on to write that I am indeed proud of that achievement. I am honoured that I will also be ‘The First’ to become a published author from my area! But, I now want to create more of ‘The First of’ in others! I want to help shape students lives, expectations, ambitions and desires to look past what hasn’t been done, what has never been achieved or never been seen. I want them to say, Sir…

‘I want to be the first…’

Is this social mobility? Is this being inconsiderate of reality? Whatever it is, how will you create the first of…? What will you do?

I want to do more than just want; I will continue to be equitable, I will be creative, I will be hard working, I will be determined, I will be resilient and I will not give up. Those are the reasons I am also a teacher.

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