12 February 2011


I think that probably the biggest frustration involved in teaching high school is the number of students who seem not to care at all about the opportunities that they have.  They’re in a school paid for with public funds to give them the chance to learn important information and skills, and to develop unique talents, yet many of them simply just don’t care.  They’re put into classrooms with teachers who have dedicated themselves to imparting knowledge and wisdom, yet many of them don’t care at all.  They’ve many opportunities to improve themselves and improve their lives, but they don’t take advantage of those opportunities.

I try to look at myself sometimes through the filter I’ve developed while teaching high school.  How do I react to the opportunities in life?  Am I taking advantage of the chances that I’ve been given?  Am I keeping my eyes and ears and heart and mind open enough to recognize opportunities when they’re in my life?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, then I think it’s time for me to re-evaluate many things in my life.  I should be taking advantage of the opportunities that come my way; otherwise, I’m losing the chances to improve my life, make myself happier, and give more of myself to others.

Many of my students are quite satisfied with leaving things as they are.  They don’t care if they don’t learn anything, for they seem happy with the current situation.  They don’t care if they fail my class, because not failing would be too much work.  Perhaps the status quo is simply easier for them; perhaps they suffer from a fear of failure or a fear of success.  Whatever the reasons, though, it pains me to see so many students not getting from their classes what they could get with only a little bit of effort.  They’re going to end this year of having been in class with a bare minimum of new knowledge in their minds.

There are, of course, those students who work hard and who learn a great deal, and they’re truly inspirational.  But they are outnumbered by the others, and I only wish I were able to motivate all my students to learn as much as they could.  But since I can’t, the only thing that I can do is to use their lesson in my own life and keep trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get.  Opportunities are gifts, and who wants to squander such special gifts?

People do with opportunities as children do at the seashore;
they fill their little hands with sand,
and then let the grains fall through,
one by one, till all are gone.

T. Jones

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