As a student growing up, I loved school. Not every class, and definitely not everyday. There were days when I would rather be anywhere else, and thanks to a mom who understood that not everything is about school there were a few days where I played hooky and went shopping instead. However, I was generally a good student, very involved, and for the most part really enjoyed my classes. I have great memories of me being in school, so when students say things like “I hate school”, or “I hate being here”. I find it a little frustrating. There has to be something that you like about school, and lunch does not count.
In my internship I made a huge effort to make sure even the students who said they hated school could say one thing at the end of the week that they enjoyed about school. In my first contract some of that effort faded. It didn’t just fade overnight, but it was slow and gradual because no matter how much effort I put into lessons, no matter how creative I was trying to be, no matter how much I connected the lessons to the students personal lives, I was met with bored faces and comments about how they hated school. Eventually I just stopped trying, I developed an understanding that there was nothing I could do, the group of students that I had just hated school. This never changed, and when I go back to sub at the school, I find the same attitude.
This brings me to this past week. Recently my boyfriends, a few friends, and I decided to go on a skiing/snowboarding trip in Big White, B.C.. Fun fact: I don’t ski. As a child I never learned, and the majority of the people I am with have been snowboarding or skiing since they were little and are very good. My first time down the mountain resulted in a whole lot of falling, frustration, tears, anger, and eventually I gave up and walked back down. It may be a coincidence that I hate skiing and that I am not good at skiing, but I have a strong belief that the two things are connected. It was about my eighteenth fall (this time it involved a tree, and another skier who was not paying attention), when I realized that my hatred for skiing, is probably what some students feel towards school.
However, just because I am a bad skier does not mean I have given up. I have taken additional lessons, and am slowly improving. However, my hatred of skiing has not ruined the trip. I have challenged myself in other ways. Those that know me, know that I hate heights, like absolutely petrified of them. So when I decided that I wanted to go ice climbing, I shocked pretty much everyone. Yet, I did it. Did I make it to the top, not even close, but I made it about three meters up, which for me was impressive. What is even more shocking is that I would go again.
Yes, I may hate skiing; just like some students hate school. But I am making the best of my experience because I know that the only way I can hate the whole time I am here is if I let the parts I don’t like ruin my overall experience. There are lots of parts of the trip I am super enjoying, and I will continue taking lessons until I become a more confident. Not every student is going to enjoy every lesson, topic, or subject but there is only so much teachers can do before it becomes the students responsibility to make some effort to make the most of their learning experience.
I now have a understanding for what it means to hate doing something, but I also know that just because I hate something that I am not good at does not mean over time I will learn to enjoy it as I improve my abilities. As students progress their abilities, they may also gain a new joy for school. Start with one thing that you can find enjoyment in, allow it to expand.
You can only fall so many time, before you finally stay upright down the hill. You can only fail at an understanding something so many times, before it is finally taught to you in a way that makes sense. Keep trying, because even if it doesn’t make sense, and does not seem easy it will be worth it in the end.