Forgiving The Worst Of My Teachers

Forgiving The Worst Of My Teachers

Learning how to learn and like learning.

I remember learning the word “grudge” when I was in the fifth grade. My teacher politely explained to me that the word grudge was not “the coolest thing to come out of the nineties" (though Nirvana did change the contemporary rock and roll scene). No, a grudge, she explained, was a feeling of anger or resentment felt towards someone, a lack of forgiveness. People held grudges when they were mad about something that someone did or said. Grudges were, according to my fifth-grade teacher, unhealthy, and while we don’t want to accept apologies at face value, we should. Otherwise, we could all be sitting around culminating hatred and making passive aggressive comments towards friends-of-friends who unabashedly borrowed my best copy of C.S. Lewis’s "The Horse And His Boy," accidentally ripped out page 72, and then returned it with a smear of barbecue sauce across the front cover. Evidently, I wasn’t one to heed her warning, but instead put my newly used word to (over)use in the worst of ways, often bottling in resentment for months at a time before (unhappily) “letting it go” and/or confronting the problem directly.

Having to come to terms with the fact that forgiveness is only a healthy part of life on earth, and as part of my evolution into adulthood, I figured it would be best for my sanity and blood pressure to let go of some of my grudges. So instead of ruminating on that time that kid in my biology class offended my (oftentimes) frizzy hair, I decided to come to terms with the fact that his prejudice against the coarseness of my mane might be a genetic predisposition, or perhaps at home his family practices some sort of hair intolerance. Either way, if I go to the grave having hated this kid for that one thing he said to me that one time that didn’t so much offend me than it did bother me, I probably would have lived a more fulfilled life having, instead, just forgiven him. Of course, some grudges are rooted in less static issues- it can be harder to just flat-out say that, despite all the feelings of anger and resentment that stemmed from their actions, it was, “no biggie” when in fact it was, more or less, a biggie.

It’s much harder to give forgiveness when you feel as though you have actual justification for being angry for a greater period of time. I found it nearly impossible, despite (in many cases now) years of separation from the situation, to forgive my elementary-through-high school teachers that made my life as a student difficult. Despite how many rhetorical conversations I’ve had with myself, despite my various means of trying to find a reason to forgive the people that made education less of an actual learning experience and more of a metaphorical ball-and-chain (if you will), it often seems impossible to reason with my internal narrative screaming “THEY RUINED SCHOOL.” I spent years of my life under the harsh regime of the American education system, and I spent years of my life running away from the idea of learning because attached to learning was pounds of homework and impersonal class agendas. And I have spent years of my life blaming the teachers that have attached themselves in my mind to the memories I have of cramming for memorization tests or essays assigned, to put another grade in the book rather than to actually teach me something. While I’ve been an advocate for the idea of a more personalized learning experience since I could use the word “advocate” in a sentence, it wasn’t until I had the teachers that I did in my first semester of college that I became so obsessed with the idea of teachers as mentors, as sculptors, and in the case of many of my K-12 teachers, vandals.

I asked my sister the other day if she had ever considered reading as opposed to sitting mindlessly in front of her tablet. She responded, rather dramatically (I shouldn’t expect any less from an 8-year-old I suppose), “But we read sooo much in school and it’s soooo boring.” As a kid, I posed the same argument to my father, though admittedly I still enjoyed reading, but I always found my brain hurt after school, and the idea of reading when I had just sat through 6 hours of staring at textbooks dated back to 1987 seemed a little bit excessive. Nothing about school ever sent me home wanting to learn more. Nothing about homework ever left me running to school the next morning excited to show off what I had learned the previous night. Instead, it left me lethargically dragging myself into homeroom after having suffered through 6 pages of math homework and two rather hefty chapters of Steinbeck.

School, for the most part, left me generally disinterested, and teachers often left me generally uninspired. And while it’s taken me quite a while to admit it, I can’t blame my teachers. Because my teachers were handed from their supervisors who were handed from their superintendents a massive course-load and told, “Finish this by the end of the quarter.” And those supervisors and superintendents are 30+ years removed from high school, from middle school, from elementary school, and are in turn incredibly far removed from the mind and the agenda of your average student. They way my teachers approached the work they were given was often similar to the way I approached the work they gave me, with a small amount of lackluster enthusiasm. And unfortunately, while it’s hard to really learn from someone who doesn’t seem enthusiastic to teach, it’s probably just as difficult to teach algorithms or "Julius Caesar" to a group of tired-eyed preteens whose interests fall somewhere between internet memes and "Gossip Girl." And so the cycle of the poor teaching and poorly taught continues, and it’s sometimes hard to recognize it until you’ve come across a good teacher or a really interesting subject.

But in college and sometimes even in high school, it’s easier to individualize an agenda, to personalize it for the group of kids in a room who are all there, in that class, because they are excited to learn and to teach. I don’t know if the same can be said for middle school science teachers or freshman year Algebra 1 teachers, and so I don’t know if it’s fair to hold them to the same standard. I’ve grown to forgive those teachers because I can blame their supervisors, I can blame myself and generations of other students for not caring enough, and also because it’s probably bad for my blood pressure to get heated over a seventh grade English teacher every time somebody brings up "The Outsiders." I’ve learned since that there will be ups and downs in the great road of education, and I’ve learned that if I hold grudges against those that gave me pop quizzes on test days or assigned hours of reading for no particular reason, I’ll never be able to grow as an individual student and learn to like learning a little more.

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college


Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

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