[Although this was originally written for an International Day of Peace event, it has been used with students and parents a number of times. This applies to people of all ages, including graduates.]
Its fascinating, and sometimes horrifying, to see how we’ve divided up learning in our society. Teachers are often under societal and administrative pressures to teach the left brain only – facts, figures and futures.
Families teach the body – food, friends, and fun. Private lessons, churches or clubs teach the right brain – creativity, application of ideas to life, and the art of aspiring.
Yet we sometimes leave it to luck, the principal’s office, and the mental health professionals to awaken and win over the heart. (We don’t often live close enough to relatives to get nurturing from them like in earlier times. . .)
What’s more, we don’t do it like the ABC’s (assuming that we should teach them as standard curriculum given to all “whether they need it or not”). Rather, we may wait till a person is in dire straits and we call in people from helping professions to clean up the mess.
Wouldn’t it be a fine resolve for this decade if we’d include matters of the heart in our everyday educational strategies, at school, at home, church and in the community? Inspiring and motivating wouldn’t actually require an extra burden on the curriculum load.
But it would suggest a style of dealing with our youth as if they are our greatest natural resource – which indeed they are! This may be our only hope for world peace. We are a free society of people of faith who seek to resolve problems and seek peace in themselves and others.
There are many areas to be covered in teaching to the heart. In fact, the lessons of life are found there:
Like Why Practice?Working together to formulate an answer to this can cut through much resistance to learning.
Or Why Try? An ongoing conversation about this can help a child discover that making the effort is something one does for oneself, not for “them.”
Feelings are important, but there are effective ways to express them which help without hurting others. An example involves the fact that many children don’t know workable and proactive techniques for anger and assertiveness. They can be shown that it’s fine to be angry – and there are effective ways to express it assertively.
Why study this stuff? Understanding how a subject can be used in real life or in one’s future helps motivate. I tell algebra students it helps them deal with details in an organized way. I also say that it prepares you to deal with seemingly impossible problems in life by dealing with one part at a time.
Many remember this one from their life experiences. It isn’t the BIG MEANIES who usually get you in trouble. It’s the magnetic pull of your good friends who may be caught up in error and/or in fear.
Violence – When working with students I often hear the macho expression, “Nuke ’em out of the sky!” in response to everyday news events. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to discuss why war isn’t like a football game. Maybe we could clarify that real life can’t stand the amount of violence we see on TV or video games, and that their makeup washes off. . .
Mistakes – When you fall you don’t have to wallow in the mud – you can always get back up again, and learn, and go on. You are the captain and you make the choice. However, some choices are more helpful than others.
Bad habits are like pins: they stick you all the time. Good habits are like gold – very valuable but easily tarnished or crushed.
Friends – You don’t always have to have a “best friend” or lots of friends. Sometimes that classification of BF puts pressure on you and a burden on your friend. How about enjoying a friend like a flower: for today instead of worrying what it will be like tomorrow?
Chance – Some of life is dice. But you are often the one in charge of the dice. You can gripe, or you can roll ’em again. . . and again, and hope with faith and a grin.
Think with your mind before you think with your mouth.
A goal is like a roast; a plan is like a bite of roast – to be chewed slowly with a bit of gravy added for digestion and enjoyment along the way.
Aloneness is OK at times; even your friends need it once in a while. Being alone is for your soul like sleep is for your body.
Patience – If you can be patient with yourself, you will learn to enjoy the wait – for others to learn to be patient with you.
Time keeps moving on; we don’t boss the clock. Moments never come back but they are good for many things: working, savoring, and sometimes even wasting.
For every effect there is a cause, and we can usually make something happen if we want it enough.
Taking the easy road rather than the hard one isn’t always the best, or the worst. But if you take the harder road, you’ll be sure to see people on the other paths seeming to boogie on by. So whichever road you take, look at it, not the other ones – lest you have trouble steering.
Everyone has a weak spot. Champions make friends with theirs so they can tame it.
Friends encourage you to grow – They don’t “feed” your problems. A friend is also glad to see you happy, not just there when you are sad.
Tears happen. They are the plant food for the heart. Just enough is helpful; too much burns you and stunts your growth.
Most of the time you can do it. But sometimes you can’t, and that’s OK.
Strive to stay inspired. The reason is often the doing.
Take care to like yourself and others. You deserve it. Besides, at some moments it will make all the difference.
Learn with the heart – as well as the mind!
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use in print or online.