Each of us going back 12 generations reveals over 4000 ancestors who had to endure for us to even be alive.
Times are tough for our students. They are telling us that they are struggling. They are giving up. They are opting out. They are going through the motions but nothing is moving for them. They feel stuck in mud. They score themselves low on question 4- what do you do when things get hard? It might be just a bad day and not much more. The lessons were hard, or there was a snow fall or they missed the bus. We respect the student who scores the question in the moment and means, this moment- not my life. But a few scores and we can start to see the pattern of self-regard. Someone is telling themselves that they are not coping that well when things get hard.
As a member, you can say, “Buck Up” it ain’t so bad, or that others have it worse, or stop feeling sorry for yourself but then, a member thinking that can work might have not ever experienced what feeling depressed or sad or hopeless and helpless does to your spirit. Life can just feel so heavy that every day is like lifting weights just to get yourself up out of bed.
Here a member has to step back and look at the larger picture. A student might have failed a test or got into trouble and there are lots of reasons for them to want to give up or feel that the world is against them. That is not necessarily a bad reaction. Some recently have pointed out that positivity can be toxic. But the MyScore gives the member a chance to invite a conversation about what is going on, and often, that alone is the cure. Someone cares. Someone is paying attention. Someone knows and is interested.
The other conversation one might invite with the student is to ‘refuse to be complicit in a conversation with the student about their own inadequacy, to not get into a downward spiral in the name of empathy. You feel bad and I feel bad with you, “Poor Thing” and now we have two people instead of one feeling bad.
One can listen for the courage, the courage for a student even to let on that things are hard, the courage they have to let you chat with them about it, their courage to do their best when things turn for the worst. In that chat, we often can point to evidence that even if the student feels like they are failing, you notice evidence to the contrary, that shows they have more inner strength than they are giving themselves credit for.
Genealogists tell us that 12 generations back from us, we can find on average of 4000 people who had to survive for us to survive and be alive. And if we manage to live a full life and have a family, we will be the progenitor of 4000 people more that will spring from us. When one thinks about that, that is a lot of people to live forward for.
And looking back, one can get curious about what made those 12 generations back to the 1700’s when there was war and plague and drought not to give up. The fact we are alive is a sign that built into our genes is the “not Giving Up easy” gene. If the struggling student comes from a minority background, one can be even more confident of that assertion. Feeling down or giving up is not failure. it is just honoring the pain and the hardships and not pretending that we are all sufficient, or that we can do it alone.
This invitation into vulnerability can be one of the most powerful lessons we can learn together with our students, because we have been there too. We might even be there now. We don’t have to put on plastic smiles. We can cry together knowing that tears in most traditions are not signs of weakness but signs of truth. Tears tell us that words alone won’t cut it anymore. Lets weep and lament. Life sucks, and that is OK. It doesn’t stay that way- It gets better, but right now, that is how it feels and we must honor the moment.
i WON’T GIVE UP ( YOUNGER KIDS)
Teens ( Never give up no matter what)
Playing the Long Game – Part One
Playing the Long Game- Part Two
Playing the Long Game- Part Three