Sunday, February 25, 2007

Meaningful words

This time of year is always an interesting time for me. Most subject areas in my Faculty of Education's secondary program always have an overabundance of applications to their majors. Business Education, much to my chagrin, usually has only a few applications. The reasons for this are complicated I think but have to do with the place of Business Education in our high schools and in the public mind. We just aren't high profile - and we certainly aren't the 'prestige' (science and maths) or the 'fun' (Phys. Ed., Social Studies) areas. Also many of the potential Business Education applicants could be seen as non-traditional students - they already have degrees or certificates from a technical school. And many of them have work experience.

So we advertise - we let it known that Business Education is interested in applicants with 'different' backgrounds. So over the years my students have been former lawyers, bank managers, civil servants, investment fund managers, comic book store owners, graphic designers and on and on.

And so this time of year is interesting because of the phone calls. Someone sees the ad or hears about the program and they call me to discuss possibilities.

There are the well researched people - they know all about the program, they know why they want the program and they are calling to see how long it will take them.

There are the 'explorers' - "So I hear you want more applicants - how about me?"

Then there are the "lost" - "I don't know what to do with my life - maybe teaching - maybe Business Education"

They each have an interesting story and at this time of year I often act as a career counsellor - the teacher in me kicks in and I am motivated to talk with them, work with them and help them decide on the most appropriate path for themselves.

So its an interesting time of year.

The other day we were sitting in the Starbucks near our place in Vancouver and Nat King Cole's song Nature Boy was being played.

There is a line in that song that has always stuck with me but when I heard it I thought of those people who have called me this year who are among the "lost" Frequently they are lost because they don't understand the line in this song - or won't let themselves act on it.

The line is:

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return."

This idea is important in life - but doubly important for a teacher - loving yourself, loving your students, loving your work, loving your mission in life.

Then last night I was reading a friend's blog and she quoted something that really made me think about those 'lost' people. Perhaps they couldn't start with loving and being loved because they couldn't forgive themselves.

The quote is from Alexandra Stoddard's book You are Your Choices

"What are you making of yourself when those around you are lazy and indifferent? What are you doing with your life? It's never too late to choose to change yourself. Do not give up or run away from the opportunity to grow. That is the ultimate tragedy. There's no place to go and hide in life. Your job, your duty, your responsibility is to make the most you can of you." "...

Don't regret that you were unable to shape up others; only regret when you don't live up to your own vast potential for good."

"Work on yourself every day. We can't sprint at the end and catch up. We need to strengthen our intellectual muscles now before our brain loses synapses. We need to build upon our virtuous habits of choice every single day in order to have fewer...regrets."

"Don't be afraid to do what only you can do. Rather than having chest pains trying to do work you no longer are capable of or enjoy, it may be better to cut your losses. You will feel great joy and satisfaction doing something you know you love to do. What would you choose to do if you knew you couldn't fail? Do that very thing, because it is there where you'll develop your potential."

"You and I are capable of so much more. We should encourage each other to do more to express who we are. We can cut through our difficulties by our belief in our self. The only way we can fail is not to try. Michaelangelo wrote, "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

"Our consciousness is ours to raise as high as we're able, as soon as possible. We all have lots of work to do. All of our experiences give us knowledge and inspiration to build on. Our glass, we will discover, is more than half full..." "Use all your powers while you can. It is tragedy to die before we're fully born. We can't afford to let our creative spirit die inside while we're still able to make life-changing choices. We're only using a fraction of our capacity. All the rush and frantic busy-ness is keeping us from the good choices that will allow us to live with as few regrets as possible."

"One choice I persistently try to make is to be persevering. When we stay the course, when we keep trying, we will have fewer regrets. Perseverance leads to good habits that help us over the inevitable rough patches. Live with an appreciative awareness of the precious gift of your life. Don't miss the mark by not making your own brave choices. This is your challenge. Don't feel sorry for what might have been. You are your choices. Own your choices. Hear the cry and choose to follow what is the good life for you."

Frequently the 'lost' feel unempowered - their lives are out of their control - and frequently they come to me to tell them that becoming a teacher, becoming a business education teacher will solve their problems. They are always disappointed when I keep asking them questions instead of telling them what to do - as Stoddard says - we have the responsibility to take our lives in our own hands - for some this is impossible because of economic and/or social reasons - but for many this is just a matter of personal discipline and belief.

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Anonymous Dan Benesh said...

Cyril, I don't know if there is anyone else out there more qualified and capable of helping these people decide their path. Business Education is 100% right for me, and I'm glad you accepted me into the faculty 4 years ago. I am ecstatic to be done in a few months, and I don't know if I have ever personally thank you for the quality education I have received from, and because, of you in the last 4 years. I will do everything I can in Regina Public (God Willing, heh) to promote Business Ed. and further our place in schools, so that you will need to recruit many, many more teachers to our program. Keep bloggin'!

12:52 PM  
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7:20 AM  

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