The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, is a life story of William Kamkwamba, a young native boy born and raised in Malawi, a poor and small country in southeast Africa. The reading illustrates three essential concepts, found throughout the novel, and they are the Growth Mindset, Grit, and Deep Learning. What are these things? Well, there is Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset, the two go hand and hand. Individuals with a fixed mindset, believe that their qualities are fixed traits and that they can never change, but that not right. These people form their intelligence and talent limitations rather than working to develop and improve them. Alternatively, with a growth mindset, people believe in the complete opposite, that one’s learning skills and intelligence can grow over time, that you can get smarter, and that effort has an effect on one’s success almost like deep learning, which is strongly related to the growth mindset. Lastly, grit is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face adversity. It’s about having a sense of direction and commitment. Grit is also known as perseverance, meaning to continue working hard even when you experience hardship and failure. These concepts are found within William during the whole process.The novel details William’s battle to construct a self-made windmill and attempt to harness power provided from wind power to bring electricity and water to his region, tormented with drought and horrible famine.
The life story commences in the prologue, as the result of the story, where William has just completed the windmill project, preparing to test it out among a crowd of locals. “The preparations was complete, so I waited. The muscles in my arms still burned from having worked so hard, but now I was finished. The machinery was bolted and secured. The tower was steady and unmoving under the weight of twisted steel and plastic. Looking at it now, it appeared exactly as it was – something out of a dream. News of the machine had spread to the villages, and people were starting to arrive …. Everyone walked into the valley … I recognized these faces. Some of these people had mocked me for months, and still, they whispered, even laughed. More of them were coming. It was time ( William,1).” Then, ” …. I knotted their frayed ends together with the wires that sprouted…. “Quiet down,” someone said. “Let’s see how crazy this boy really is.” A sudden gust muffled the voices below, then picked up into a steady wind …. Reaching over, I removed a bent piece of wire that locked the machine’s spinning wheel in place. Once released, the wheel and arm began to turn. They spun slowly at first, then faster and faster, until the force of their motion rocked the tower…. Don’t let me down…. Finally, it came, at first a tiny light that flickered from my palm. Then a surging magnificent glow. The crowd gasped…. “It’s true !” someone said. “Yes,” said another. “The boy has done it.” (William,2)”. The windmill works, the light bulb lit up, leaving the crowd in shock. William proved them all wrong!
Then it backtracks to William’s childhood as a six-year-old. William describes how his childhood in Masitala village, where he lives with his family, who are farmers, growing maize and other crops for themselves. William’s society is in a state where magic ruled, with people having strong beliefs and science remained a mystery. Establishing William to become imaginative, curious about the world and how it works, making him develop higher-order thinking skills, that is deep learning. Later Williams turned thirteen and started taking apart old radio to see what was inside and try to figure out how they worked out of interest. ” From the first time I heard the sound coming from the radio, I wanted to know what was going on inside. I’d stare at the exposed circuit boards and wonder what all those wires did, why they were different colors, and where they all went. How did these wires and bits of plastic make it possible…. Who arranged them this way, and how did this person learn such wonderful knowledge( William, 68)? ” William is asking a lot of questions so that he can deeply understand how the radio work and it why it works. This is what the process of deep learning is, connecting cognitive skills and academic knowledge that students need to succeed. This plays a role with William’s success with his windmill. The growth mindset is starting to come in play as well later on though. When things started going well for the young innovator, it started going bad.
William’s village and all of Malawi suffer through a drought because ” The rains were late, and didn’t begin until the last week of December. The first showers gave the seedlings confidence to finally push through the soil, so farmers applied their fertilizer and hoped for the best.”(William,76). However, heavy rainfall followed up for a whole week, washing away the fertilizer for the crops. Also, to matters more worse than it already is, the Malawian government offers little aid to families that are farmers like, William’s family. Making it almost impossible to purchase fertilizer because ” as a result of the new president’s policies, a bag of NPK fertilizer now cost three thousand kwacha.”(William,76). It ultimately leads to a devastating famine, many people starving to death, including William’s family, but manages to barely survive because of only eating one meal a day and a side business selling cakes.
But during this famine, William is still in school like the other children during this hard time. He took the Standard Eight exams and received his scores. Ultimately his scores qualify him only to the lowest ranked school. But he could attend until William’s family could no longer pay the school fees. William is not allowed to return to school because of the unpaid fees, so during this time, he visits his local library to continue his education by himself, study collections of books. That demonstrates a growth mindset and grit; he finds ways to make it happen. Trying to keep with those who are at school because William is continually striving to improve himself. Later William discovers a physics book, that includes windmills and realizes that he could build his mill, bringing electricity to his home, also have it function as a water pump and ultimately eliminate the famine. Spending much of his time in the junkyard, searching for any usable building material for his machine. William finally builds it, with the help of his friends. That the moment the prologue arrives with his attempt being successful.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind illustrates William’s determination and ambition on completing his machine. With the people of the village, distrusted initially, and mocked his ideas, grew to be able to respect him for what he has done. Including overcoming crippling adversity and yet refusing to let go of his dream. Inspiring many people around the world including me, taught me the importance of having a growth mindset, grit, and deep learning and I incorporate these three concepts outside of my life, not just in school