Joy of Teaching #3: A Rebel with a Clue is a Great Thing to Find

I am thrilled to post today’s blog from friend, colleague and former student, Will Cutrer.  I taught Will in junior English six years ago.  I was impressed with him then and was thrilled when he returned to join our faculty two years ago.  His energy is evident in his teaching, his coaching, and as he describes it, in the many educational experiences outside the classroom.

cutrerwStrolling down memory lane, I found myself watching a preteen favorite sitcom of mine, “Saved by the Bell,” when the constant “rebel figure” uttered a seemingly throwaway line that somehow managed to resonate in me.   “I love school, too bad classes get in the way,” Zach Morris uttered right before the screen cut away to credits.  This got me thinking…

How much emphasis does America put on learning solely through the classroom experience?  Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating that we do away with the common school system as we know it, but how many schools teach to a student beyond the confines of an English, math and history class?  Is life learned through the grade one receives on an art project or biology mid-term?  And who says school only takes place within an academic building?  While classes don’t get in the way of an education, they can make us lose sight of the importance of learning elsewhere.  You can learn as much about yourself by overcoming a seemingly impossible situation on the athletic field as you can by learning the proper way to write a five-paragraph essay (trust me, I know, my students have been working on that for weeks.)  There’s a greater potential to obtain more confidence in yourself than you knew you had by simply getting up and singing a solo on stage, certainly trumping the filling of a beaker with some liquid in chemistry (I used to be shy before I was introduced to the art of Performing Arts; now I’m the assistant director.)  Voices are found when you are forced into a leadership position beyond the boundaries of something that you would normally consider yourself “good at” (there’s nothing quite like watching a quiet senior beginning to run school meetings and come out of it a louder person.)

Everyone has dreams, but outside of the constant overachiever, very few dream of ending their high school career with a 4.0 GPA.  So once again why should getting an A on the upcoming Spanish prueba be the most important thing in a teenager’s life?  While there is the old adage “Education is wasted on the young,” similarly “youth is wasted with thoughts of only the classroom.”  Round yourself!  Continue to push yourself in academics; it is an important thing after all…but the buck of knowledge doesn’t end there!  Try something new; take a risk in something that yesterday seemed like it would never happen, dare to go big, and, above all else, keep yourself ready to be a sponge for education no matter the time or place.

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