Do Not Fight Your Nature

“Accept everything about yourself — I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end — no apologies, no regrets.” –Clark Moustakas

First of all, I owe my teachers nearly everything good about what I know.   Mr. Smith, for example, is a teacher who touched my life in 3rd grade and I will never forget him.   I’m using it to illustrate a point.  I was in 6th grade when this happened.  Mr. H was my  English teacher and this is one of the few things I remember about him.  I got a paper back and I had misspelled a word and got marked down for it.  I sincerely asked, “Why does the spelling matter?”  His response was an indignant, “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.”

I guess I remember it because it reminds me that some of the simple, “stupid” questions are actually pretty good questions.  There is a good answer to that question.  Not so long ago people had no agreed upon spelling.  It is a good story.  Look it up and find out how we got our first Dictionary.   If a question is sincere it is probably a good question.  Stay curious.  Your questions are good.  Be on a good path.  Accept everything about yourself.  Then you can take the next important step.  You will be able to accept others as they are.

 

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Do Not Fight Your Nature

  1. Marjie Knudsen passed this along to me: http://nyti.ms/fXQ7b1 This article, along w/ the comments, is very relevant to our discussion. Alphie Kohn is the author.

  2. I’m happy to take anything you read point by point. In fact, I’m especially careful to be clear that attacking people is not helpful. When I talk about my children, for example, I’m not talking about “all children”. If I recount a story about something that happened in school, I’m only talking about one person at one moment in time. Again, thanks for reading and responding.

  3. I agree with all of what you wrote. I believe that we build confidence from our achievements. I’m sorry that you misunderstand me. I expected some people would. It is hard to have a serious discussion about education, partially because teachers get so much blame for everything. If you read it again, you will see that I am only recounting an incident, not blaming all teachers and all future teachers, or assuming they are embarrassing kids. My kids have never had a bad teacher. But, there are some bad teachers, doctors, mechanics, etc. My true intention was to talk about what is most important in life. I wasn’t thinking about teachers. In fact, I believe teachers need freedom to teach and be creative in how they work. Part of good teaching is giving respect to kids. We both agree on that, I think. Thanks for reading the post.

    • Julie

      I guess I was responding to what I read in some of the other posts…it just seemed like I was hearing a theme of bad teacher… I know there are some out there but we are not all that way. Thanks for the response.

  4. Julie

    I hear what you are saying but I do believe that we should celebrate the accomplishments of our children…whether it is academic, athletic, social. Let’s encourage them to be best at who they are. We try to teach our son that he is very talented but that doesn’t make him better than everyone. It still instills in him the self confidence that he needs but does not make him think he is “the best” at everything. I don’t know…maybe I misunderstood your blog and took this in a totally wrong way!
    Also, not all teachers are the way they have been protrayed here. Some of us are totally caring individuals and would never intentionally embarass a child.

  5. I think you are right. That is why I said, “Do not fight your nature.” Sometimes we don’t know who we are or who we are supposed to be. We are told who to be from early on. Artists are lazy (unless you make a lot of money doing it), lawyers are successful people, etc. Sadly, many of us find out who we are later rather than sooner.

    Your comment on the power of words has me reflecting on moments where I have said harmful things as well as moments when my words brought about good. In my quest to be popular in school, I treated some people pretty badly at times. I have to be honest about it. Prior to my class reunion, I found that many of my fellow students did not want to attend. The #1 reason was b/c they worried about how they treated their classmates. Interesting.

  6. It is fascinating how little incidents like that stay with us. Words are powerful, especially when they come from teachers and parents.

    What will it take for people to start valuing the questions and honest debate again? If we want our youth to solve the growing number of world problems, why are we still focusing on memorizing procedures and information which could be found via the internet? How do we change an outdated paradigm?

    Thank you for sharing a great quote. I see so many people around me trying to be someone they’re not. People of all ages are being sold on the trendy ways to look, feel, and act. I know it’s always been like that to a degree, but it just seems to be getting out of control lately. It’s no longer just TV commercials, but we’re bombarded by the internet as well. The cycle just keeps repeating itself.

    What would happen if we all just acted like ourselves, even for just one day? It would be so refreshing, wouldn’t it? Just think how different school would be for students of all ages.

    Thanks for yet another thought-provoking post, Dr. Marty!

  7. a dalton

    Again Marty; I commend you for your honesty. I think it is so easy for us to become defensive and destructive to ourselves & others. acceptance is often preached but not practiced

    • I agree. Much of our youth is spent in environments where we compare ourselves with others, have narrow standards, and are publicly acknowledged for our performances– good or bad. It is hard to accept ourselves. That is what Karen Horney called “the tyranny of the shoulds”. I should be better at this or that. Why should I have to learn this stuff? Etc. I bet you have a lot to say as a very good student in school. That has to come with its own price. I became the class clown. That way, everyone would know I was not buying into all this stuff. I was just there to have fun. Truth was, I tried every semester to get on the honor roll. By Week three I saw that I couldn’t do it and I gave up,

  8. When I discovered that humiliation applied to my schooling, I felt as though I began to understand why I struggled. This was one piece. Recently, with all of the suicides and bullying going on, we have introduced new terms. Marjie Knudsen introduced me to the term “school climate” and this has been very helpful for me. I wrote about humiliation and boredom here: http://drmarty.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/how-do-kids-want-to-learn-my-doctoral-research-pt-1/

    What interests me about your comment is that I, too, felt what my fellow students felt. If he was nervous, I got nervous. We still do it when a youngster takes the stage in a play. We are on pins and needles hoping for the best. For those rising to the challenge, let them go. For the meek, give them some time or risk doing harm. My .02

  9. melinda

    What I remember being most humiliating is when the teacher called on us and even at the point they knew we didn’t know the answer, they still kept the attention on us. The stony silence and maybe some snickers from other kids — punishment for not knowing the answer. They really tortured this one kid, Clayton, who had anxiety when called on anyway. That poor kid was always left in tears.

  10. davina mcdonnell

    I really needed… and greatly appreciate… this post. I too have memories as a child of humiliation when asking a “stupid” question and can almost relive the pain even today.

    Now that I am older I don’t really care if people think I am asking stupid questions. I am curious. I want to know and the only way I can receive that knowledge is to ask.

    Stay in tune with your curious, childlike self… you’ll be surprised at what you will uncover!

    • Thanks. The best wisdom I have heard has been easy to understand but hard to live. Do you think this is the hardest challenge? There is so much judgment in the world, and so much fear.

  11. You moved me. Keep our eye on what is really important. Thank you.

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