“An Open Letter to my Students”
As the kids would say, it’s been a minute. I have started three blog posts, idling in my drafts, ready to be taken across the finish line. Yet, as my day started, its revealed itself to be a free for all kind of post day.
As the title of my blog site implies, I am a teacher. Typing those words is always easy, those words proudly flow from my tongue out to the world holding the highest currency. What I mean is that, teaching is the most honorable job I could ever accidentally fall into. Now, I have specifically chosen the term honorable over any other, such as greatest. This is why:
This shit is hard. Day in, Day out, you put your energy and best face on NO MATTER WHAT. Literally, even if your daughter puked on you twice this morning, your dog ate your picky eater son’s breakfast, and you haven’t showered in a couple days (no judgements), running on no sleep because of your second job, you still walk in, smile, give your best efforts to show each child they are loved and capable of learning anything they choose to. Emphasize on the choose to. Sounds easy right? This morning, I am re-teaching some chemistry. No, chemistry is not as scary as you think, however, kids immediately resort to I am going to fail, I don’t understand, I don’t get this stuff, all the while having their phones out, packing up early and basically not trying. Now this behavior might seem disrespectful to most, and it is but not in the way you may traditionally think. This behavior is severely disrespectful to themselves as intellectuals of any level. How? Here’s what I mean: They resort to this because its safe, its safe to not achieve, its safe to not be smart, its safe to not try and fail, its safe to already seal your fate and not be disappointed, expecting the least of yourself allows you to never lose any self esteem, you already set the bar to underachieve. Why does this shake me to my inner core and keep me up at night? So glad you were wondering. Well, allowing yourself to never expect anything of yourself, does save you from losing any self-esteem, but it never lets you gain any either.
With this age of instant gratification, not seeing results right away, as most students are conditioned to have with this little devil device of a smart phone, breeds anxiety. This anxiety is easy to keep at bay by not asking yourself to have patience, and tenacity to learn anything new, or try and fail at anything. Instead, its much easier to just keep the bar low, do poorly, be complacent in being told what to know, when to know it, what to think, etc. Without students even realizing what the actions they are choosing to demonstrate have led them straight into the dark alley of conformity. And this conformity is a mass movement of non intentional learners AND THEY ARE OKAY WITH IT. They are completely okay with being robots in our world managed by social media and major companies who are looking at them for a profit. Everyone they idolize, every hero they may have is either themselves looking to them for their next dollar in the bank or associated with a multimillion dollar company or organization that is staring at our youth as if they are only faces of past presidents/influencers with numbers attached. Might as well name every kid Benjamin to these money hungry savages.
This means they could be missing out on something they are incredibly talented at and will never know, someone could of been responsible for the next mona lisa, or curing cancer and never gave the courage or effort to try everything they possibly could, to discover this amazing talent that could save mankind!
Students don’t see they are just pawns to someone else’s millions. Instead, they see idealistic, lavish lives that are “Gucci”. They are more interested in becoming people who yell at their 4th personal assistant for not getting the right salad dressing than creating impactful solutions like electric cars so animals that have no voice in our world can live without being a slave to our affluence. The creator of 5-hour energy is not only littered with millions of dollars, but no one knows his name. He is a quiet solider in the world of health care reform, energy crisis and rights to clean water to every parched mouth. Why do students not idealize this? Why do students not think that creating something new without public knowledge every step of the way is really cool, profiting based off his own hard work and pure talent is unbelievable, and then using 99% of his profits to help others, including these said students futures. Why is this not the best way of life? This guy making millions, worked hard, craves learning, thinks doing new things is in fact Gucci, and do you know how many times he failed? NO, because that’s not the point, but I’m sure he knows how many times. However, that never stopped him from trying again, and getting to the one time that it did work. “You can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
I try to tell all my students, they are worth it. They are more than what they chose to see in their safe world of giving up. Giving up can look different on everyone. It can be never having a pencil, always looking for others to make laugh, rolling their eyes at every homework assignment, belly aching about an upcoming test, gossiping about this weekends party, constantly being late to class, making a stink about breaking a rule and getting punished for it, yielding to detentions and bragging about it, never doing their homework or asking a question in class, coming to school under the influence because being themselves is too hard to handle they need something to hide behind, either way, they all are choosing something else other than their own brains, they are choosing poor, lazy habits over hard working, result making, name taking, habits. After all the people they have seen “be successful”, how can they not see validation that ANYONE can LITERALLY do ANYTHING. Each student I have, I promise you I love, even on the rough days. I see students who are capable of so many great things, things I could never do. The things are truly something I am left in awe of like welding! or building a car engine, getting a 5 on an AP chem exam, winning a state championship in Lacrosse, being able to play a violin, draw a picture of an eyeball that I thought was a photograph, the detail was incredible, truly unbelievable things I have witnessed. Yet, these students who have performed these said incredible achievements, also have habits of giving up.
I am not sure how to stop this plague of giving up amongst our youth, but I’ll be damned if I ever give up, you won’t ever see me not trying to help a student in any way that I can, no matter how hard it is, no matter what difficult bridges need to be crossed or burned, no matter the emotional beating I may get, because every day is a freaking miracle, you wake up breathing you count your blessings, not all are so lucky to exhale carbon dioxide today, some are 6 feet under with no words left to utter to our earthly ears. Don’t live in vain by not owning your life and squeezing all that you can out of it. WORK HARD, fail, and WORKER HARDER again! Happy resides in the passion, the fight. A life well lived, is a live worth living. To all my students, no matter your grievances, mistakes and trials, I still love you.