Love A Good Story

Love a Good Story. I just Love a Good Story. Don’t you just Love a Good Story? Well, here is another Good Story.

            I recently read a blog from an author and speaker who talked about her recent adult education class she taught on memoir writing. To begin this class, she asked the same questions she’d asked many times of her students. The questions centered around their life experiences. She asked if anyone wanted to share. The attendees were reluctant to say much, and she was nervous about the lack of responses. Having been a teacher, and still am, for so many years, I know that there is always someone in the class who gets things going. Her class responded with reluctance. The next day she brought in things that they related to, and the conversation was non-stop, she said.

            This reminded me of some of the classes I’ve had over the years as an elementary school teacher, high school teacher, and now a college professor. The students in the above author’s class, even though older, had changed. The old, what we did in the past, is no longer workable in today’s classes, even with young and older adults. Teaching year to year, the change was almost unnoticeable at first, but as the years moved along, the change was much more pronounced. A teacher can either try to force the old on the students or make the change the students need. In any case, the students indicate through their actions and by what they say, what they need and how they need it from the teacher.

            This brings me to the shootings that unfortunately we have experienced lately. Students need more than a knowledge of Biology, the need to pass algebra, English, etc. Many high school students, need much more than what is taught in school. They need non-academic help. They need to find their way. High school is an important place and a huge part of growing up. Everyone reading this experienced an awful event or two in high school. No one I know wants to revisit their high school days. Yet, high school is where a student grows the most; where they learn who they are, what they want, what they will do, values and beliefs, what they won’t do, their associations, and their place in society. Yes, we all have our place in society. But what about those who don’t? Those who don’t think they fit in; the ones others make fun of; the ones who are ill prepared and don’t care anymore. Where is their place? As this country grows and grows, many Americans are already experiencing this mis or displacement.

There is a hierarchy in high school. The hierarchy has been in all high schools since the beginning of time; it seems. We’ve all been through it. If you went to high school, you also went through it. No one escapes it. At the top of the pyramid are the football players. A girl who dates a football player automatically rises to the top. All the students know the players and which ones are the best. They also know their girlfriends. At the bottom of the pyramid are the nerds. These are the smart kids who are on the debate team, honor roll and other intellectual events. They are on the bottom. Really?? Right above them are those students whose behaviors are different and who dress differently from the other students in the school. These students are picked on or bullied due to their dress and the different behaviors they have. These are the students of greatest concern. They already come from homes where they don’t feel wanted or cared for. They think no one likes them and their behavior keeps others from liking them. What do teens do when they encounter another teen who dresses and behaves differently? They make fun of them. No parent I know has ever told their child to be nice to those children who seem angry or lost. It’s difficult for a teacher to do something when they see an angry teen in the hall, going from class to class. The school is a student’s second home and should be a place where they can get the emotional help and love they need. No one should feel that they have no other choice but to shoot people to get the attention they need or to make them feel better about themselves.

Some students don’t care about where they may fall on the pyramid, others need to have their place at or near the top of the hierarchy no matter what. Where a person falls in the hierarchy, says who they are in the “school society.” Where a student is placed determines who they date, what group will accept them, whether they are ignored, laughed at, bullied, and a host of other things. Even the angels want their place on that pyramid to be at the top. It is always impressive to see students who stand out. They don’t want to be placed on a pyramid. They are individuals. I remember one student who always wore a bow tie, a different one each day. He stood out as an individual and it didn’t matter to him what other students thought.

Students who come from homes where their parents do not validate them, or care about them, have trouble being accepted on any part of the ladder. They focus on the fact that nobody loves them. Other students may have made fun of their hairstyle, the way they walk, look, talk, and how they have failed everything. Students do this in front of other students. Demeaning a student like that brings on nothing but trouble, because the student who has been demeaned will often want to get back at the student who demeaned them. This happens to both boys and girls.

Every person on earth has the right to live in peace. We are guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A person does not have the right to demean another person. That violates their personal rights. There are things we hold in our hearts from high school or experiences we have had during those teen years. One of the things for high school students who have been mistreated is the mistreatment they received in high school. This mistreatment changes the person from someone nice to someone who is angry and who hates, who hates himself as well as others. They may want to see how someone else would react when they are being mistreated. They may want to shoot someone or many people. But they will find that shooting someone or many people does not relieve that hatred they have for themselves.

It is awful to see a student being abused. Even worse to see the look on their face while and immediately after. No one loves them. Can you feel that? Can you feel how a person feels unloved? Our high school students will become our leaders. The adults – parents, teachers, or any adult – can help these needy students by stopping the bullying and harassment in schools and in the community. Bullying doesn’t just happen in a school. It also happens in the community: on the street, in a store, in a park or any place else. They also need help with their home life. They can’t exchange their parents, unfortunately, but they can learn coping skills. These students can have strong academic and artistic skills, but since no one believes in them, “why bother.” These students who are otherwise lovely human beings, need our help.

We are so preoccupied with other things we think are important, that we are not paying attention to what these teens need. We can tell a woman that she can or can’t have say over her own body, we can tell people who they can and can’t marry, we think it is okay to tell someone where and when they can pray, but we don’t see the need to help our high school students who have mental illnesses and challenges. The need is strong, especially with the addition of Covid. If we care about people, we need to help these students.

Thank you so much for indulging me. Now, isn’t this a Good Story?

Jeremy, in The Attractiveness of Wisdom, would not be a student who would tolerate bullying, or watching a student abuse another. Jeremy, I’m proud to say, would have stopped the wrong that he saw happening to another human being, ignoring the price he would have to pay.

Read about this wonderful boy, Jeremy, who enters his teen years during the story and his strong need to help others and his strong faith in God in The Attractiveness of Wisdom.

Oh, did I tell you The Attractiveness of Wisdom won the Independent Press Award?

Enjoy this story.

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