An excerpt from "The Book of Empathy"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Daily Journal

Day 11

I recall feeling as if teachers were unimpressed by me. I believed with all the mistakes I made that no one would let me have another chance to right my wrongs. It seemed that I felt feeble because I was painfully dysfunctional. Of course, that was not something they knew because I never spoke of it. But I do vividly recall never having a relationship with any teacher in any way, shape or form. In fact, I cannot recall a teacher asking me about my life in any facet. There were no questions about needs, wants, dreams or pains. I do not remember hearing a single compliment or praise from a teacher, coach or administrator.

Now that I look back over the long years that have passed, I realize that I am responsible for the choices I have made, and it is silly to whine about childhood recollections. It does however give me cause to think about what we, as educators, owe students each and every day of their lives. Bear in mind that school can be a venerable wilderness, and children need to hear kind words and praise from adults. If they venture through each day just trying to survive, then sooner or later they will seek out edification from someone or something and that could lead to a dysfunctional choice.

There is not a person in the world who does not enjoy hearing a kind word or praise. We all need it. It is as essential as food and water. It should be at the core of teaching. I have watched good teachers, and they are masters at breaking down a child through the definition of weaknesses and then building up that child through their strengths. This process can sometimes require hard discipline, but master teachers end up molding a person in such a way as to polish them and hand over the gift of confidence. Ultimately, we are responsible for our choices, and once we are adults, there is no one to blame but ourselves. But could we have had a better opinion of ourselves if someone had pointed out our beauties and strengths instead of our blemishes?

Scripture is replete with lessons about life, but there may be no greater lesson than Christ telling a woman to go and sin no more. He declared her clean and gave her a chance to start over. We should let children start over every day.