05 October 2011

Dear Students. . .

You may not believe this when you get your first set of essays back, but I believe in you.

I mean it. I see your potential. I see the good that you are doing and the good you have within you to do. I'm not making things up when I tell you you're great. I'm not making things up when I tell you that you should care about your life and do something about it. I wouldn't lie to you about that. It would be cruel.

The world is content with you being substandard, lazy, and self-obsessed. They'll encourage it, actually. It'll be on every magazine and in every teenage drama that focuses only on cheap jokes and "self discovery" that doesn't end up leading to a place of value at all. In fact, the world expects you to be rebellious, lecherous lumps of flesh that only ever look for ways out. Now. . . some of you are. Some of you seem to spend most of your time working to get out of work. You do it magnificently. But most of you - and you know who you are - actually care about who you are and who you are becoming. You have dreams and ambitions and goals that are more important to you than any party you might go to, for example. You have direction and purpose.

I think the thing that amazes me the most as your teacher is the way that, every so often, I see more of your potential than your parents do. I don't mean to suggest that I know you better. Your parents, after all, have lived with you for upwards of thirteen years. They've cleaned up your vomit and taught you how to spell your name and instructed you on how to be a good, functioning human being. But sometimes I think they might love you so much that they're afraid to let you fail. It's why I tell you not to take your writing to them for advice. Most of the time they tell you it's wonderful and you don't learn anything from it.

That's where I come in. See, I love you too. In my own way. Not in the "please add me on Facebook" way, because I won't let you. But in the "I want you to succeed in life, but if you fail you aren't my financial responsibility" way. It's the separation between us that allows me to critique you honestly. That allows me to fight for you to have the opportunity to learn what it is to make a mistake and pay for it. That wants to tear you down a little every now and then because there's no other way you can learn.

Your parents are wonderful people. They care about you and want you to succeed. But they will, every so often, want you to find success in excuses. Excuses don't solve the problem. Knowing you're not good at something doesn't make you good at that something. Relying on weakness to get by will never make you stronger.

(To be honest, I wonder sometimes if this is why God set up the universe the way He did. Giving us parents here that love us and care for us to a fault at times where He - in His wisdom - is able to teach us more honestly because of a slight separation.)

So please - tell your parents that we're all on the same "cheering for you" section. But remind them I'm not in the stands like they are. I'm on the front lines. I'm your coach. And it's my job to fight for you to have the chance to be wrong every now and then, or being right won't mean anything to you.

Love -


1 comment:

Nanakat said...

As an educator (I once tried to teach pre-algebra to ninth graders whose parents couldn't be bothered to come to parent-teacher conferences--I got a lot of reading done those nights--and had one student tell me that her dad said it was okay if she failed math because he did), I am in your cheering section, coach.

Keep up the good work, for the sake of the kids who need your coaching. It isn't easy, but I'm hoping for your sake and theirs that it will be worth it.