Tag: Student

Life, Time and other Non-renewable Resources

Image courtesy of gacowallfoam.com

Growing up, I heard about water conservation and gas shortages. Sounded like another lesson to memorize, but it didn’t inspire me to take shorter showers or keep the faucet off while I brushed my teeth.

Sometimes, I think we’re as careless rationing the valuable resources that pepper our emotional biosphere. We waste time playing Candy Crush instead of choosing to interact with people around us. Procrastination paves our daily to-do lists with something other than lines indicating accomplishment.

Sometimes it takes an emotional earthquake to shake us out of our wasteful stupor. Time is valuable; once it is spent, there’s no bringing it back, and it can’t be hoarded like Scrooge McDuck’s gold. Life is more than lists. We can make a difference or we can trudge along, minding our own business.

Hours and days have been invested by me into the lives of middle school students. Many of these kids touched my heart. All of them meant more to me than a paycheck. (If you saw the size of the check, you’d understand I’m not really esteeming them all that highly.)

One student entered my classroom, a pixie of positive energy. Her voice, made more childish by a slight diction issue, spread feel-good fairy dust whenever I heard it. The round face of seventh grade matured to a lovely young woman’s features by the end of eighth grade.

I spent several hours each school day with this girl. Some days felt like weeks. She would probably say they drug on for a year. Hyperbole, a teenager’s best friend.

“The sixteen-year-old driver was killed in the crash.”

Image from OSP
Image from OSP

Time stalls for no one. It doesn’t give an extra second to those in desperate need. All that time I spent with her, not enough, non-renewable.

A winding road in the wee morning hours combined with the whir of the tires against pavement to create a lullaby. Snapping awake when the tires spun on the gravelly shoulder, the driver jerks the wheel. Too sharply.

The car rolls end over end. Seat belts strangle the two occupants. Air bags deploy to soften the impact. The windshield shatters, spraying glass shards into the front seats.

“Police suspect driver fatigue could be the cause of the accident.”

Only 16 short years of life – gone. No mulligans. No second chances. Life is a precious commodity and sadly, non-renewable.

Several months before this, almost two years after she spent all those hours in the classroom with me, I saw the pixie at the grocery store. Or I should say, she saw me. Ran up to me and threw her arms around me.

I’m not much of a hugger, but her affection softened my reserve. I returned the hug and asked about her life. School wasn’t going so well. There were so many activities at high school to distract from doing homework. She missed having someone like me to help her understand the assignments and encourage her to complete them.

She was floored when I said I wasn’t working at the middle school anymore. “But you were one of my favorite teachers.”

Precious words. The time wasn’t ill-spent. Meaning infused those years of my life. Apparently, the investment paid dividends.

What other “non-renewable resources” do you see being wasted or well-used in our world? Don’t let it take an earthquake to make you consider conservation and productive use of these irreplaceable commodities.

Patriotism: One Woman’s Perspective

Old Glory Flying High
Old Glory Flying High

Sitting in a metal folding chair, I’m surrounded by parents. We’re in the gymnasium of our neighborhood elementary school. My son is receiving a reward.

The principal approaches the lectern and asks everyone to stand for the flag salute. All those first through fifth graders who were sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor stand. In unison, 100 youthful voices say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”

I freely admit that an enormous clot of snot clogged my throat. Tears set my eyes on red alert. Something about a crowd of young people reciting the pledge with one voice chokes me up every time.

It’s the same with the National Anthem. This embarrassed me twenty years ago. People stared at me, wondering what I had to cry about. It was only a song, after all.

Eighth graders at the middle school where I worked for seven years still learn the history behind it. Sadly, I think to them, it’s just another meaningless factoid they’ll be expected to know for a test.

Patriotism dies a slow death in American public schools. How can I say this? Here are a few proofs:

  • Kids don’t stand for the pledge. Only five years after the incident where I listened to an entire school recite the pledge in unison, I stood dumb-founded at the back of a classroom. Tuesday morning the principal came over the intercom and “offered the opportunity” for students to say the pledge. In a class of 34 students, maybe 20 stood up.
  • Some of them talk during the pledge. The teacher in the room during a specific year I’m recalling is a veteran of the navy (and I served in the Army Reserves). A few students decided to have a confab during the pledge. When it was finished, she took them to town. It’s disrespectful to talk during this ceremonial action that takes all of 20 seconds to accomplish. You know what happened? One of the kids complained to his parents. Parents called principal and the time for the pledge was moved to a different class period so that student wouldn’t be in that teacher’s class during the pledge. Really? That’s a solution?
  • What’s the name of the National Anthem again? You might think I’m joking, but if I asked 20 students at the middle school, only 60 percent of them would be able to tell me.
  • Freedom is a right. American youth have an incredible sense of entitlement. The example of the kid tattling on the teacher is a perfect illustration. They have the right to do and say as they please. They are free to disrespect anyone and everyone. Freedom is a privilege, but these kids have so many privileges that they could care less about it (unless you infringe on their right to wear an obscene t-shirt to school).

Maybe I’m just an over-emotional woman, but I cried when I stood in front of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, for the first time. A long wall of names of brave men and women who died so some kid could talk during the pledge.

Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

Okay, that was an exaggeration, but in reality, what would make these kids sit up and take notice that their freedom of expression was bought and paid for by millions of pints of blood over hundreds of years?

Freedom is never free. As soon as we start taking it for granted, we’re disrespecting all the patriots who gave it all for our liberty.

How do you define patriotism? Do you think the youth of today lack it? Will they “grow into” it as they become more mature?

Still Learning at Every Age

This is borrowed from Carla Foote the blog manager for Weekly Refill.

“Apparently when Michelangelo (painter, sculptor, architect, poet – original Renaissance man) was 87 years old he said, “Ancora imparo” – I am still learning.

Reasons to stop learning (most of us won’t articulate these, but they are in the back of our minds when we step back rather than forward towards a learning opportunity):

  • Fear – of what others will think, of looking stupid, of being wrong, of not being able to accomplish whatever we want to learn
  • Time – to accomplish something new, we need to set aside time, make it a priority and stop doing activities that are less meaningful
  • Settling – the comfort and safety of the known can cause us to settle for staying stuck, rather than trying new things
  • Lack of      imagination – we have never pictured ourselves doing the new thing – being a lifeguard, writing a book, climbing a mountain, speaking in front of a crowd, telling our story

Reasons to keep on learning:

  • Stretching – it’s as good for our minds as it is for our muscles
  • Stewarding – we have gifts and influence we can invest for the kingdom, in every season of life
  • Serving – the lifeguard learns so she can save a life – I learn so I can serve my community in some way”

What are the reasons you give for either backing away from new experiences or embracing them with gusto?

As a middle-aged college student, I’ve obviously decided that I have more to learn. In fact, when I graduate next month *cheesy grin* I will still want to keep learning.

If I stop learning, I believe I’ll shrivel up and die. My brain craves new information and experiences. I don’t want to ever say, “I’m too old for that.”

This old dog is happy to learn new tricks.

Feeling Pressure: Learning to Perform under It

Image courtesy of 123rf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of my professors assigned two papers that are due at the same time.”

This from my youngest son, a young man who believes he’s headed into the marketing industry. I’m sure once he’s there, his employer will never assign him multiple projects that share the same due date.

Yeah, right. What universe does he plan to live and work in? Certainly not the American one. Read more