Post written by John Boone, Instructor
Every group of sophomores in my Media Broadcasting class completes a journal/discussion about their fears and worries in life. This is always one of the most fascinating assignments for me to read.
The results are somewhat predictable - snakes, spiders, and heights are always high on the fear list, and grades, family, and friends are things that everybody worries about. But it’s other popular choices that are most concerning. Many students fear death, whether it be their own or of their loved ones, and, not coincidentally, being alone. And a majority of students have a worry or fear of the future, the unknown, or simply failing at what they set out to do, not being able to accomplish their goals, etc.
These results are heart-breaking, but at the same time are motivating to me as a teacher at a career center. I believe the self-doubt that creeps into these students’ mindset is at least somewhat caused by the stagnant education system. Students are simply not prepared to enter the job force or to forge a career through advanced education. But a good bit of that blame can be borne by the students themselves for a lack of effort or interest in their education, and that continued disengagement will result in a total lack of applicable learning beyond memorization for a one-time test.
I enjoy teaching communications, because the skills used in my class cannot only be used in the media industry, but in any job sector. Despite that seemingly automatic connection, students can still find ways to become disconnected dead weight in a class. That’s where getting to know each student’s skillset and learning style combined with soft skills training begins. I like the challenge of pushing student success in the world, even if it’s not a direct result of my curriculum. My big thing is providing opportunities for success, based on the student’s interests. Now, it is still up to the student to choose to accept those opportunities, but my job is to give them the options to set them up for success. Some will give up at this point just from the fear of making a choice, but now is the time to learn to make those choices. Some will give up on a passion because they fear they’ll never get there, yet they never take the first, most difficult steps on the journey. It could be simply a fear of the work that goes into success, and not even so much not making it. That’s a downright shame, to lazily dismiss a passion in life. What a ripoff! Students, ask questions now. Take advantage of opportunities now! Work hard now!
Let’s face it, the future is intimidating for all of us, because none of us know what it holds. But I would like to think I did what I could to make sure the teens I interact with don’t fear it, that they believe in their talents and abilities, and that they can pursue what makes them happy in life without fear of failure. We all experience failure, but in the end, it is that which makes us better. As the saying goes, “Better to try and fail, than to not try at all.”
Students, don’t come back to me someday and say, “I wish I would have (fill in the blank) in your class.” Or the next thing you’ll have to fear is me!
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