Student always come into my office complaining that they have to deal with a teacher who hates them, or how they see no point to doing homework. My favorite question asked is "Why should I learn this? I am never going to use it in life". I often give this speech on how "High school is a taste of life" to my entering 9th graders so I thought I would share it with you today.
High school is a taste of life. If you canít figure out how to "work" high school you will not be prepared for life. So I donít care how many bad teachers or stupid assignments you feel you are dealing with, if you canít figure out a way to make it all work out in your favor you will not be successful in life.
So letís start with the analogies: if the idea is that high school is life, then what is homework, teachers, tests, grades, and the administration all about?
Homework assignments are deadlines that you will have to meet. Homework, plain and simple, is not meant to punish a student. It is meant to teach them about the wonderful world of stupid things that no one wants to do that have to be done in a certain time. Adults have bills, taxes, work, projects, forms, and other painstaking items always due. Students need to see that homework is a way for them to prepare for the mountains of things that are going to be asked of them for the rest of their lives. If they canít turn in a handful of assignments by a specific time to a particular person at a particular location, they will not be able to function well in life. Homework is about deadlines. It is about a studentís time management and learning that needs to occur in order to understand what is needed from them. If it is submitted in a sloppy, messy or disorganized state, I have a feeling that a good grade will not be obtained and that a raise at work is not in their future. If the assignment is never completed but an excuse is offered instead, not a good sign for their adult life. Accountability is everything. In short, you have to learn to just get it done and do it right.
Teachersí are bosses/ clients in your future. Whether you are going to work at a small company or own a huge company during your life, I guarantee you are going to have to work with people. Whether they are your boss or just clients giving you business that you need to succeed someday, someone will need to interact with you. Teachers provide students with an amazing opportunity to learn about the different people in society. Whether they are friendly, cranky, mean, too nice, pushy, demanding, a push over, silly, or just plain boring, all these types of people exist in society. School give kids the opportunity to learn from these relationships. Some teachers and students just plain do not get along. This is great. Use this time to learn how to make these arduous relationships work. A student needs to learn what it will take to please the type of person that for whatever reasons "hates" him/her. A word to parents: do not rob your child from the chance to learn from this experience. Have your kid(s) get in there, face their fears, and make that situation work. When that student becomes an adult and is faced with the same type of person whether it be looking for a promotion or closing a huge business deal, they will think back to their work with "Mrs. White" or Mr. Henderson" and use those lessons to their advantage. Teachers allow us to learn that no one is perfect and people come in all different shapes and size. There is no way that one is going to get through life without coming across a mean, bitter, angry, out to get you type of person that has to be dealt with so why shelter your kids from that in school. Life is not easy and school therefore shouldnít be a walk in the park either.
Good Grades are like Money$$$. This is the easier part for students to understand because they all desire both. Also, everyone wants to get "As" or money for nothing! Well, here is a news flash. You canít get money for nothing. Even though it looks to some of us that we are living the American dream and get it from nothing, this is not true. It takes hard work and dedication to be successful. True grade success comes from knowledge, studying, reading, and learning how to make those "As". The world top performers do not get their money from providing "C" quality work. As in the classroom, "As" are rewarded to the student who goes the extra mile and so it is with who will bring home the bacon. The student who obliviously went above and beyond the call of duty gets the best grade. You have to know your stuff and do your homework in order to get ahead. Now I know what you are all thinking. Some of you think there are many successful people that are rich and very successful that have not worked hard. I doubt it. Anyone who is rich, even if they were just given money at birth, work hard to keep that money. Because if they donít or if they act like the student with "D"s or "F"s , the money is gone in a heartbeat. Even though they may look rich for a small point in time, they will fail if they donít work hard or at least educate themselves enough to make good decisions with their money.
Tests are equal to the tests one has to deal with in life. Life is filled with struggles and tests that continually pop up when least expected. High school helps students to see how important being prepared, staying calm, and dealing with stress during times of pressure will make them more successful. Tests give students that chance to show off their skills and prove to themselves and their teachers (bosses/clients) that they are cut out for life. By not giving up, studying hard, and not stressing out, students are able to beat the tests and move on in life. Facing challenges head on and learning from their mistakes are all a part of mastering test taking. The key elements to mastering test taking, make people better by learning from trial and tribulations and more cut out for the ups and down encountered in life.
The administration is government. The school makes the rules. They make the final decisions and they have the final say. Challenging this group can be very difficult just like in society. However, if you are political about it and voice your opinion in a very educated and respectable manner, you can be heard. So when trying to deal with or talk to the administration, remember that they do not work for you. They are there to help you and help keep order. If they adhere to every student and each personís needs then order would be lost. So please think twice before pissing off the wrong person in admiration because you never know when you may need them to remember how nice and civil you have always been.
Therefore high school is simply a taste of life. If you want to be a D or F student and drive a D or F car and live in a D or F quality house then fine, simply donít try. But if you want something more, if you want to have nice things, be envied, then you are going to have to work for it. Money doesnít come easily and neither do good grades. However, once you learn the key to earning the grades that you want, everything is easy from there. Take control of your future and start learning how to do well in high school.