"No wonder people's careers end up wonky. The very institutions they are paying to prepare them for their careers and expand their horizons are blatantly ignoring the question, 'What's going to make you happy.'
What if our schools did teach that? How incredible would that be? When I was climbing down at Smith Rock with Erden Eruc and his wife Nancy a few months ago, Erden introduced me to a high school teacher he had met on an earlier climbing trip who teaches a Careers class.
The teacher said he constantly gets in trouble with parents because he keeps telling the kids, 'Follow your heart. Don't buy into what is expected. Make your own decisions. Explore. Do what feels right. Don't let other people decide what you should do.'"
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Curt's "rant" is spot-on. Why don't educational institutions focus on helping students figure out what they really want to do with their lives?
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I am a college professor and I found one of the most rewarding aspects of my profession is assist students in finding a calling or potential professions. It really does not matter what the subject I teach, one of my goals is to help students discover their uniqueness, their true personality, their gifts, what they offer to others.
But admittedly, I may be more the exception in this pursuit than the norm. Part of my motivation for teaching is to see change in others, to see a realization of self actually occur. One of the most important things I think I convey to my students is that it is not what they do that counts but who they are. Life is not about doing but about being. Generally speaking, we in North America are more concerned with performance, with the letters behind our name or the six figure salary, than actually develop character.
What attracts us to other people? Is it physical appearance? Our net worth? Our media seems to communicate both but I think there is a much more geniune and lasting way to attract & create friendships than with looks or money. Think about the people you like to spend time with - what do you admire about them? What characteristics do you admire? Is it the way they actually listen to you or reiterate what you are telling them. Character is at the core of being - without character, we are empty vessels.
I just looked at my post and realized I may have taken us down a path different than your original intent - my apologies...
I agree! Schools teach students how to deal with the "external forces" of life, but not how to read their guts. Educators aren't wasting time by helping others find their callings. Just think of the time wasted sending youth off to a lame entry-level job they hate, then to another job they hate, and then another. They will have to get to their calling eventually, or never, and the world suffers.
Garth, I like the direction you're taking this. I believe that many of the false goals we set for ourselves (American Dream, perpetual youth, bigger/more/better stuff) is largely formed in a vacuum -- if parents and the education system aren't offering better alternatives, most of us tend to default to the same tired old patterns.
I'm glad to hear that you focus so much attention on the self-actualization of your students. I wonder if this is easier in a bible college, since one of the main reasons people attend is to figure themselves out in the company of other searchers? You said in a recent post that you were plowing through course material in your class, but in a university course they'd be even more focused on the curriculum...paying no attention to individual needs or aspirations. Perhaps your recent fatigue is related to trying to do both at full throttle. Lucky students.
"Just think of the time wasted sending youth off to a lame entry-level job they hate, then to another job they hate, and then another."
Exactly right, Jory. And it's not that educators and guidance counsellors should have a magic bullet that automatically puts kids on their perfect life path...but I think we could certainly do a better job of giving them the skills to recognize and develop the opportunities that suit them best.
You may be partially right in that working at a college that addresses spiritual concerns as well as academic ones allows me somewhat more freedom than in university. But there are still expectations placed on me as educator as to what I should be teaching in a particular course. However, I am not afraid of "following rabbit trails" related to my curriculum as I recognize that they engage student's thought processes.
Your assumption that my fatigue is caused by my concern for individual's needs & aspiration is also accurate. I definitely tailor my class assignments as best as I can to the individual. Interestingly, I have been trying to balance these individual needs with community goals as well with some group projects. I actually had a student comment that they had never liked group projects prior but because I got them to evaluate each others' performance within the group (including their own performance) as part of the assignment they saw the value in it.
In response to this quote, "Perhaps your recent fatigue is related to trying to do both at full throttle. Lucky students." Again your conclusions are correct - I feel that I have not done my job as a teacher unless in some way students have been changed by the course I am teaching. I tend to ask students after class if they are finding value in the material covered or if they felt I rushed through the material too quickly.
I think one of the reasons that education generally is not tailored to the individual is because of the large classrooms students are placed into and how many educators have been taught. I teach in the way I like to be taught. I'm a visual learner that loves interaction - meaning I like pictures & opportunities for discussion. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations, stories, classroom simulations, etc. to perk the interest of the student and hopefully facilitate discussion and thought.
BTW - i removed my first attempt at a reply due to spelling errors. I wish there was a way of editing posts after posting - my one complaint with blogger. I guess I need to make use of the preview function more often.
Garth, you wrote:
"I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations, stories, classroom simulations, etc. to perk the interest of the student and hopefully facilitate discussion and thought."
Again, lucky students. We've all had a couple of teachers who went that extra mile to find/create compelling materials and really teach them. While I was student teaching, it struck me how much work it is to teach well. I could kinda fudge it and lean on the textbook or whatever, and then all I had to deal with was classroom management. But occasionally I busted my hump working on great lessons or units -- it was as exhausting as it was rewarding. And I found that those units also tended to bend the limits of the curriculum a fair bit -- perhaps like the rabbit trails you referred to.
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