I think what I love about learning is that sometimes even after you’ve taught something or given advice on something a thousand times, you are still able to see it from a fresh perspective, and that feeling you get is almost indescribable, like some kind of rush of knowledge or insight.
Obviously most people like music, but I can still remember the days of dubbing mix-tapes and figuring out the exact order of side a or b, or when the best song on the playlist should appear. I used to be the go-to-guy among my friends when they needed to know the name of a song or a suggestion for what to dance to at their weddings. I took a long break from any new musical ventures, but this year, I’ve relied a lot on my music to help keep me focused. One day, I stumbled on a track called, “Carry On” by fun. Neat song, good message, but one line puzzled me. “May the past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.” As an ELA teacher, I needed to understand why this comparison is being made, and I couldn’t do it just then. Urg.
A Novel Study: Dare
Teaching a novel study can drag on at times, or you can try to find something inside the novel to connect with, and allow it to sort of wash over the class, and if you’re lucky, some amazing discussion could happen. Not to judge or label this current generation of high schoolers, but I’ve noticed a lot of blame being shifted about. I’ve heard time and time again that this or that is someone else’s fault, so when we got a to a scene in our current novel about a young man being told by his grandmother that she didn’t blame him anymore, nor did his mother, and that he should stop blaming himself, something really resonated in me. I decided to spend some time in class discussing what it means to let blame hold you back from choices you can make. How if you always say that some guy did something to you years ago, and it doesn’t let you do something today, you’ve actually wasted all those years between. We talked as a class for a while about making sure that instead of just blaming, we choose to live and move on.
Film: Vanilla Sky
Say what you will about Tom Cruise and confusing movies. I remember one strong piece of advice from this film. The lawyer friend told David to stop living in the shadow of his father. He told him quite simply to “Choose life.” (mind you it could be a bit of rip-off from Trainspotting’s open monologue, but I think the message this time was a bit more wholesome) That line has stuck with me over the years, and augmented a bit to “Choose happiness.” I think many times in life we think life is so complicated, but in the end it is just a simple choice between choosing bitterness, complaint, inadequacy or happiness.
Tying it all together: Choosing
What I’m getting at is that I knew a lot about making positive choices, but it wasn’t until I let all three of those moments converge in my life, and figure out the literary meaning behind that simple pop song by fun. That message of choosing happiness resonated back during all of my classes on Friday. I taught with a lot more gusto than normal, and we had a few great debates and conversations about happiness and how we achieve it, and how sometimes life is even a bit sweeter when we help choose happiness for others too. I’m not sure how everything will work out over these next five weeks, but one of those choices we made as a class was to investigate a bit into an amazing program called donorschoose.org We aren’t raising funds or anything like that, but we’re taking the time to realise that there are many schools out there who are not as privileged as ours, and hearing students talk about helping other students really makes it easy for me to choose happiness in my own life, and just like the fun. song, I will carry on and the past will be the sound of me walking forward.