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Beyond crowns and status
June 1, 2009
by Jenni Sebora

An English teacher spoke of a time when he was observing detention after school. He spoke of a repeat offender. This individual, along with most of the other offenders, sat with his head down, doing nothing productive, but sinking in feelings of anger and unimportance.

The teacher thought he would just suggest to the student that the student spend his time reading something – a copy of Newsweek that was left in the room.

To the teacher’s bewilderment, the boy got up from the desk, grabbed the magazine, and sat on the radiator and began reading an article about the president.

The principal came in and told the boy to sit in his seat. The boy put the magazine down and sat in his seat with his head down just as he always had.

That could have been handled so differently, thought the teacher. The principal could have tried to engage the student and ask him what he was reading, giving value to the student and the reading he was doing.

This short article appeared in the May 2009 edition of NEA today. The message of this article: to help students realize their potential and help them feel that they are valued and have something to offer to the world.

Without this feeling of self-worth, begins a downward spiral of defeat and helplessness, which, in turn, can lead to destructive behavior to themselves, others and belongings.

“Too many students leave school feeling depressed and dispirited because they’re merely average,” the English teacher, Walter Bowne said – with no honor roll, no homecoming crown, no team captain, etc.

Bowne continues to stress that regardless of social status, they can still lead wonderful, fulfilled lives. It is all in their hands. It is our job to help our young ones know and feel that opportunities exist; that they are important beyond crowns and status.

Sometimes, I feel we should get rid of pageants and courts that crown someone the most “beautiful” or the most “popular.” If you are not the one crowned these honors, does that then mean you are less beautiful, less worthy?

There is worthiness and beauty in each person; it just may be different than someone else’s definition or someone else’s beauty.

We need to embrace our children and teach them they are important and valued by treating them that way. The world needs all kinds of people. We need doctors and plumbers, teachers and learners, gardeners and electricians, mathematicians and biologists . . .

Harry S. Truman said, “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”

If we allow our children to follow their dreams and their own talents and teach them that attitude matters, we are doing our young people well.

Charles Swindoll said this about attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company . . . a church . . . a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude . . . I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Let us let our children know that they matter and that they are valued so with that knowledge, they will embrace their attitude and know how influential it is on how they live their lives.