I teach English, the mother tongue. My days are spent convincing kids that reading is worthwhile and more entertaining and valuable than video games and texting. I struggle to teach writing and thinking, and all the traditional skills English teachers try to impart. But I–any good teacher–must also teach a great deal more, for if we do not, we end up with a future generation of perpetual victims, milquetoast fops who fall apart at the mere knowledge someone else has differing opinions.
Too many schools spend irreplaceable class time teaching kids to hate their nation, their parents, and all that makes America great. I’m not among them.
So, a list of some–not all, of course–of the things I try to impart, all within the context of various works of literature and assignments. I teach:
*the importance of paying attention to detail.
*the necessity of developing good, productive habits.
*how to work and play well with others.
*the necessity of telling the truth.
*that keeping one’s mouth shut and one’s ears open is enormously smart and valuable.
*Woody Allen was right: just showing up–on time–is much of life.
*doing more than expected elevates one over most people.
*accomplishing a task in less time than allotted also elevates one over most people.
*that consciously deciding to spend each day smiling and happy makes life–any life–far more pleasant and productive.
*honest compliments cost nothing and pay enormous dividends.
*smiles and kind words cost nothing and pay enormous dividends.
*you’re not all that; no one is.
*character and competence, not position, matter.
*the Golden Rule really is Golden.
*Benjamin Franklin was right: “don’t squander time: it’s what life is made of.”
*one of life’s most important skills is the ability to pay attention.
*really listening to others is essential–and hard.
*the only way to improve at anything is through correct practice.
*teachers can be friends with students, but responsible, adult friends. Kids don’t need middle aged homies.
*if you’re truly smart and capable, it’s never necessary to say it; others will notice.
*if you’re truly smart and capable, many others will not like it–or you.
*if you’re truly smart and capable, the people that do appreciate it, and you, are the people that matter.
*take pleasure in the accomplishments of others. It will make you a better person.
*self-esteem is meaningless, destructive, PC twaddle.
*self-respect is what matters, and must be earned–every day.
*the most fortunate people in the world are born American.
*duty, honor, country.
*America isn’t perfect, but it’s far, far ahead of whatever is in second place.
*liberty is worth dying for, but it’s better to make those that would take it die first.
*trust not in the promises of politicians.
*trust not the media.
*trust not anyone who says “the science is settled.”
*nothing is free, particularly if the government is offering it.
*nothing in life is guaranteed; even life itself.
*anyone that doesn’t know Shakespeare isn’t educated.
*all cultures are not equally valid and worthy.
*some people are evil and will harm others.
*no one owes you anything.
*if you want something, earn it.
*there is great nobility in honest work.
*make yourself invaluable to any boss.
*if you have time for gossip, you’re not nearly busy enough.
*Mark Twain was right: “A lie can travel around the world before the truth can get its pants on.”
*whatever’s hot today will be old and uncool faster than you can imagine.
*anyone that doesn’t appreciate what they have doesn’t deserve it.
*Mark Twain was right: “Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”