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Gems of Wisdom: Humility
|by Joy Jones
Reprinted from the march 2003 Gazette
March 1, 2008
Whenever my ego gets a little too big for its britches, life always seems to find a way to cut it down to size. Here's a little inspiration on the topic of HUMILITY, taken from my book, Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.
Life is a long lesson in humility.
I was at the bank handling a routine transaction when I noticed a good-looking, twenty-something looking at me. He wasn't merely looking, he was staring, eying me up and down with great interest.
"Yeah, I still got it," I thought to myself smugly. "I still turn heads."
When I walked out the door, I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Don't I know you?" the young man asked me. It was an old line, but as cute as he was, I was willing to let it work on me. "Well, you do look familiar," I responded, truthfully. Was he one of my neighbors?
"Didn't you teach at Brookland School?" he asked. I had worked there nearly fifteen years ago. When I confirmed that I had, he spoke in that tone of voice reserved only for elders, "Don't you remember me? You taught me in the fifth grade."
Today's lesson: I keep my ego in check.
Seeing The Signals
Sonya was in my creative writing class and had the disdainful attitude typical of teenagers. She was not a serious behavior problem, but she certainly didn't impress me as a model student. Sonya was definitely in that stage of life where she regarded most adults as a nuisance. In my class, she wrote a story about a teenage girl who attempts suicide. I regarded it as typical adolescent angst and not as a desperate plea, but my principal had made it very clear that ANY indication that a child was considering suicide was to be taken seriously. So I referred Sonya to the counselor.
Learning the details of the story behind the story made me wonder - how do you tell if there really is a problem? What are the warning signs that a student is depressed or suicidal?
Mental health professionals identify the following as possible indicators.
As a result of the intervention, I discovered that Sonya truly enjoyed writing and had aspirations of becoming a writer. Her short story won a prize and her attitude improved. Well, it didn't really improve, but she scowled a little less frequently. She was still a teenager, after all.
I am glad, through my principal's insistence, that I didn't let Sonya's signal go unacknowledged. Take a look at your class. Is there a student sending you a message?
Children seldom behave in the nice, obedient way one would wish. There's a good reason for that, although it's hard to appreciate it when they are challenging you in class. Here are my thoughts on this phenomenon, taken from my book, Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.
It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.
You think you know a lot of things; and you probably do. The tricky part is that some of what you know to be true is false. At one time medical science "knew" that using leeches for blood-letting was a good cure. At one time, teachers "knew" that rote memorization was the best technique for learning. At one time, everybody "knew" that the world was flat.
At some level, your students know that some of what you are teaching them is not true. And much of what may be truth now won't remain true tomorrow.
Today's lesson: The truth is born in inquiring minds.Gazette Articles by Joy Jones: