The news media is full of youth getting drunk or getting high. What has happened to our society to cause children to think so little of themselves that they are willing to use chemicals to forget their problems, at the risk of their health?
Society often uses the band-aid approach to problems, instead of getting to the root of the concern and mending it. For example, often a panel of experts is selected to study an issue and write a report of their findings. Until the committee reaches a conclusion, precious time passes.
And if we wait until our children are teenagers to talk with them, this is a bit too late.
And where does the teacher fit into this picture?
By the time a child reaches puberty, she has formed an opinion about herself, her self esteem, her self worth. And how does she reach this understanding? She observes her parents and her caretakers in the early years of her life and how they reacted to her. Research supports that the first five years of a person's life are those that create the foundation for her entire life. She then takes these opinions to school and they are reinforced by the educational system.
For example, if her parents repeatedly called her stupid, and her teacher supports this by giving her failing grades, then, in her eyes, she must be stupid. The adults closest to her are the only authority she has, they are her gauge. They are her world and have confirmed it. With this belief, she feels worthless and useless. She might turn to her peers for love and support to bury this unloved feeling. If her peers are in the same boat, there is always the chemical solution to alter the situation, even if temporarily.
As an educator you cannot change your student's background or her belief system. But you can show why that thought pattern is wrong.
Everyone is good at something. Yes, everyone. Can you find that special gift in each of your students and nurture it? That is the challenge. But if you meet this challenge, and succeed, you will have changed the world. Yes, really! If you can turn her low self esteem around, you will have altered her life. Instead of feeling worthless, she now has another choice. She could choose freedom. And you, as her teacher, would have been the one to light the path that was, until now, hidden.
In Proverbs 22:6, it is written, "Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." In other word-- Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain on it."
A child who is raised and trained with respect, honor, and love, and taught the basic human element of kindness, will carry those qualities throughout her life, for those are the elements that create who she is.
Today our society is witnessing the results of the antithesis of this. Is it not time to regain the balance, to shift the pendulum from self destruction? Our students today are our country's citizens of tomorrow. As teachers we have the power to become part of the solution. Find that buried diamond in each student, polish it, and create a gem. You can make all the difference.
The author recommends some of the following inspirational resources:
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
A Course in Miracles http://www.acim.org/
Twelve Valuable Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem:
Oprah's website: http://www.oprah.com/topics/spirit
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Developing A Positive Attitude
Attitude is the Primary 'Element' in Elementary Education by Don Berg, Founder, Attitutor Services http://www.teach-kids-attitude-1st.com/
The Secret http://www.thesecret.tv/