Discouragement

There are few things I find more depressing than a teacher discouraging a student. It doesn’t matter what level, students should never feel that a teacher doesn’t believe in him or her. Unfortunately, teachers like this exist at every level. I found myself thinking about this recently when I came across one such teacher, now retired, in my daily life. I never had her as a teacher, but she always seemed to go out of her way to be negative. I occasionally see this women in my business life, and she well knows that I went back to school to become a teacher. It never fails: She always brings it up and always acts as though I will never find a full-time teaching job. Excuse me? Neither one of us knows what will happen. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

The worst is overhearing negative teachers talk. One woman bluntly stated that she would pay for her children’s college educations in full, as long as they did not become teachers. I didn’t say anything, but that statement didn’t sit well with me. If that teacher happened to have my child as a student, there might be cause for concern (frankly, I am being nice here).

Even as a high school student, I went out of my way to avoid such teachers if I could help it. I knew of one teacher who had years earlier discouraged my aunt from pursuing her chosen profession. He didn’t particularly like my family. Fortunately, my aunt didn’t listen to him and went on to have a successful career in her chosen field. Well, for whatever reason, he must not have made the connection that I am related. I had to have him for one class, and it was OK. However, I did have a choice as to what I could take as a senior. Even though most of my peers took an additional class with him, I chose a different class. I am so glad I did. The last thing I have ever needed in my life is someone to tell me that I can’t do something. I am already my own worst critic, and I know that I am not the only one.

How many students have been discouraged from trying something new due to an overly critical teacher or parent? What a sobering thought. I am convinced that everyone has innate talents; some people just haven’t discovered theirs yet. Imagine if we were all a little more supportive and a little less critical of those around us. What a wonderful thought. So many of our biggest, toughest problems might actually be solved. Maybe people wouldn’t turn to drugs and alcohol quite so easily if they felt what they did mattered, that they could contribute to society.

This actually gets to the heart of what I believe to be wrong with society. We are too hung up on perfection. We don’t value ingenuity. We don’t honor work ethic the way we should. We don’t honor true diversity of talent. Well, I guess I’ll leave it there.

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