As many of you know, I teach 3 classes at High Country Home Educators, the homeschool group I went to from elementary school all the way through high school. It’s been a phenominal experience for me to be able to teach elementary schoolers, though I think there’s been a number of times when I’ve learned more from them than they do from me.
For the sake of brevity, here is a simple list of 3 things that I’ve learned from my students. Some of these may seem overly simple, but that’s the beauty of them. I find, that as an overly analytical, philosophical thinker, I usually have to be shown the simplest things, because left to myself I will overthink them and completely miss them. So here we go:
1. I’ve learned not to place too much stock in what people think of me.
It’s true, not all kids understand that concept, but I’ve noticed several of my students that do. Some of them seem to have the attitude of: “Oh, well that person just doesn’t like me, so I’ll find friends that do.” Not to say that they just don’t care if some one is upset with them, but I’ve noted that they don’t take it to heart all that much.
They realize that they cannot please everyone and just look for the friends that will like them for who they are. That’s something I’ve been pretty bad about. I tend to try to be friends with everyone, often at my own expense. But my students have reminded me that some people are just jerks and that I should just move on and spend my time with the folks that are worth spending time with.
2. I’ve learned to delight in the little things.
My students are easy to please and are not ashamed to take pleasure in simple things. It sounds strange, but I think one of the things I’ve started to lose as I’ve been growing up has just been the ability to stand back and wonder at the world around me. I’ve been realizing that it is so easy to stop appreciating things because I’m expected to.
I’ve noticed many of my students are not self-conscious about what they like. They like what they like and if someone else doesn’t like it, it doesn’t matter. They are not afraid to think something is awesome. This sounds strange, but it does make sense when one realizes how many interests we have abandoned growing up because they were unpopular or because we had supposedly “grown out of them.” My elementary kids love Play-Doh, LEGO, and whatever else just because they’re fun. From them I’ve learned not to be afraid to enjoy the little things.
3. Age doesn’t really matter.
One of the big things I’ve learned from my students is that, more often than not, age is irrelevant. I’ve noticed several of the kids know what they want to do and just go out and do it. They’re too young to realize that they can’t do everything, so they try it out. There have been numerous times that I’ve sat back and thought: “Maybe I’ll try that when I’m older. I mean, I’m still only 19. . .”
For example, one of my 10-year-old students is writing a book. My first impulse when I heard that was to think: “How cute. It probably won’t go anywhere, just like most other kids that try to write novels.” But then she mentioned she’s communicating with publishers already. That threw me for a loop. Doesn’t she realize that she is too young to write a good book? No, she does not, and that’s exactly why she can. She seems to be adopting the Nike motto: “Just do it.”
I’m sure there are plenty more things I have learned from becoming a teacher, but these are just the most recent. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from one of the greatest teachers I’ve had has been this: a teacher is simply a student that is willing to share what he’s been learning. Never stop learning, never stop searching, and always remember that you can learn from very unlikely teachers.