As I write to you, I’m on my way to my co-worker’s dad’s wake. During our staff meeting today, two of my colleagues revealed that they both spent a day over the Thanksgiving break at a wake. This time of year can be especially rough for a lot of people so it’s important that we try to be more in tune with our students and colleagues because the fact is that not all of them are happy; not all of them are celebrating; not all of them have close family ties. There are a lot of hurting people around us, if only we’d open our eyes to see them.
It’s important that we not only tune in but stay in tune.
Just last week, I was on my way home and I noticed a teenage couple in what appeared to be a very heated argument. The young lady was visibly upset and trying to walk away. The young man was also very upset and did not want her to leave, so he grabbed her arm and refused to let her go. It was a pretty busy street. I know I wasn’t the only one who saw this situation unfolding yet no one did anything. Everyone kept moving along, business as usual. Nobody bothered to tune in.
I made eye-contact with the young lady and asked her if she was okay. She sheepishly said yes. I warned the young man that he should take his hands off of her and allow her to leave. Perhaps, I told him, once they have some time apart to cool off they could discuss their issues.
I see displays like this often, in school more so than in the community. Some of our kids are under a lot of pressure and are in many precarious situations at school and at home. I know this is nothing new as far as adolescent growth and development is concerned; however, this is the first generation to grow up with the voyeuristic nature of social media. Everything they do is publicized. It’s hard to mess up without the whole world knowing about it.
Also, there’s a lot of keeping up with the Jones’ that parents like to engage in, often to their child(ren)’s detriment. I’m just going to put this out there: College isn’t for everyone! If your son/daughter has always struggled through school and really doesn’t like or get schooling as it has been presented to them, why are you pushing them to go to college? What about vocational training? What about trade school? Or taking a civil service exam to enter the blue collar work force?” It’s like our society only values one kind of intelligence and gives no true credence to the multiple forms of intelligences that exist within mankind. I’ve seen students struggle through high school and college applications when what they really want is to be a plumber or train conductor or cosmetologist. But because of familial pressure, they table those desires to make others happy. A life of regret can be a dangerous thing.
I want to convey an urgency about our need to look out for one another because so much is going on in and around us. After the presidential election and the plethora of emotions, it is necessary to recognize the stress our students across the nation are enduring. I feel the need to bring some healing to education’s current landscape. God knows, it’s hurting….
As we preparing for the holidays and enjoying the festivities of the season, let’s be vigilant about noticing our students who appear despondent. Even if we’re not sure, let’s reach out and give them/refer them to the support services they need. As teachers and as human beings, it’s the least we can do.