who is crazier

I found out this weekend that my older brother (28) is planning on picking up his life and moving to Fairbanks, Alaska.  He lives in Tucson, Arizona presently.  And, he recently finished a four year stint in the Army.

How does this have anything to do with education?  Actually, at this point in this blog entry, I don’t know.  I am hoping that, as I type this, something will hit me and tell me how to tie his whimsical drive in with my teaching.

My first thoughts are that he’s not afraid to take risks.  And I’m thinking that I wish my students could do that more.  I mean, a person really either has to be very secure with him or her self, or actually really insecure (so much to the point that they do crazy things).  To be honest, I’m not sure which one he is.  He’s always been the troubadour, taking new life experiences head-on.  So this latest development in his life shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does…

Back to the kids.  I think to truly learn about oneself and the world around, one must take risks like this.  What a learning experience he will have – learning about different ways of living (okay, it’s still the U.S., but certainly requires a different set of daily living skills than Arizona), and learning about how to start all over.  He has no relation or friends living there.  He is lured by his desire to 1) do something different, and 2) follow a dream.  He wants to be a firefighter, and they are looking for a few good service people up there.

I would love to see my students demonstrate a similar drive:

“I want to graduate high school, but I am addicted to alcohol at 15 years.  I will do what it takes to realize that dream.”

“I want to get on the A honor roll next semester.  I currently have 10 missing assignments and am not welcome back to math class until I take ownership of my behavior.  I will do what it takes to get to my goal.”

“My mom sits at home all day with her 2 high school dropouts and 4 other children.  I want to do better for myself.  I will take steps now to avoid living off the government.”

It is so frustrating to see such potential as my students have wasted.  They are at such an important time in their lives – physically, socially, and academically – yet they revert to substance abuse and rebellious activities and disengagement.

What is my role here?  I tell them the steps they need to follow to get to their dreams (if they express a dream, that is).  But I feel like I’m lecturing.

In my school, we want kids to construct their own knowledge when it comes to academic understandings.  I generalize this over to goal-setting and post-high school aspirations.  If I constantly tell kids the way to reach their goals, they see it as nagging.  They tend to do the opposite of what they are told.

Better to guide their minds to their own understandings by giving subtle clues and scaffolding the learning about their future paths.  Tricky thing to do.  I can’t say I’ve really done it yet.  But I am tired of seeing 50% of my former students drop out during high school.

why do some aspire to greatness while others settle for next to nothing?

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2 responses to “who is crazier

  1. protectyouridentitynow

    Perhaps show a dvd of some people who made terrible choices and live with the consequence (jail, dui, injured, jobless) and then have a motivational person who has climbed from nothing to greatness. I think kids need to see something tangible.

  2. I have had students who were in the program a couple years ago (when I first started) come back and talk to them about the changes they needed to make to get what they wanted in life. It seems to fall on deaf ears. Similar to the scare tactics that high schools use to get kids to stop drinking and driving – showing them nasty videos, having quadriplegics come in and tell their horror stories – the kids still seem stuck in their ways until they figure it out for themselves.
    It’s a lot like learning – you can tell them all day how to solve some problem, but until they construct their own knowledge, it is meaningless. They need ownership of the learning, the ideas.

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