Posts Tagged ‘academics’

As the school year is coming to a rapid end, those of us who work in schools tend to become reflective about the year that has past. We wonder if we taught everything that the students needed to learn. We wonder if the students learned everything that they will need to succeed.

Earlier this past week I was speaking with a young man who is graduating from high school. I have never been assigned to work with him, I have never assisted him in a classroom setting, in no way have I ever been responsible for any part of his education. In spite of the fact that there is no direct connection to him, I have gotten to know him a bit by saying hi and connecting in the hallways.

This young man has not been successful in an academic sense. He was not a ‘good’ student. I would guess that he did not have the best handwriting in elementary school, the best understanding of algebra in middle school, or the best essay writing skills in high school.

From what I have learned, over the years, from talking to him, from watching him, and from hearing about him from others, I believe he will be immensely successful in life … and it has little to do with schooling.

This young man is kind … I have seen how he treats others.

This young man is hard working … I have seen his acts of service in the school.

This young man is responsible … when asked to do a task, he shows up, and does it.

This young man is humble … he does not do things for praise.

He is the young man who will grow up contributing to society.

He is the young man who will grow up caring for his parents.

He is the young man who will grow up supporting and loving his family.

He is the young man who you would want for a neighbor.

He is the young man who knows that he has nothing in this life without working hard, being responsible and being faithful to his commitments.

He is the successful result of parents who loved him and who modeled a life well lived. His success is the result of having the benefit of being able to participate in a program at school that allowed him to earn a portion of his credits by doing the manual labor he so loves (and is probably amazing at). He is the successful result of an inner strength of character that kept him going to school, just because it is a hoop we all need to do to be part of our society.

I wish I had had the opportunity to work with this model young man … I bet he could have taught me something!

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Yesterday I invigilated (love that word … it sounds so important!) a test for a student.

This young man and I have spent a number of days, after school, closed up in an office or classroom, this school year. Each time it was so that he could write a math test, which I invigilated (love having yet another opportunity to use that word).

I have to say, in the beginning I thought this was a little over-eager-beaver. I mean, really, what’s the hurry? Why work on a math course that is designed for the grade above this young man? What reason, what benefit could possibly be worth the tutor, the home work and the invigilator (three for three!)?

But, now I get it!

And I do not just get it, but I’ve gotta say, I respect the reason that this school year of insanity was all about.

This young man is bright academically, quite bright. He is one who would be led, and who would choose, the more academically challenging courses.

He is also a creative young man, and although he can clearly do the tougher academic courses, his soul longs to create, to build and to fix things. He loves woodworking and automotive technologies.

If he were to do his math coursework next year, as it is designed, he would have a schedule full of academic courses. This would help him to achieve his scholarly goals, but it would fail to nurture his hands-on passions.

So, this young man chose to have a year of tutors, of extra homework, and an invigilator (who is so happy to use that word), in exchange for time in his schedule for sanity in the shop next school year.

His choice, and his family’s support of it, reminded me of how often we discourage the bright academic students from taking classes and courses such as Drama, Textiles, Cooking, Woodworking, Automotive, etc. We rationalize that if they can do the tough course work, they should not waste their time on the hands-on courses.

But, the trades are not for the ‘dummies’. Like Calculus, English Lit., and Physics they too are areas of study that lead people to fulfill their passions … the same passions that God himself has called us to fulfill, as if for Him.

I wonder how many bored academics we have sitting in our classrooms?

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