When I first read about the writing challenge topic, my mind flicked over several different moments in my past. At what point would the advice offered be the most practical? (Or most interesting for a post!) When I was in primary (elementary) school? High school? University? Various points of my career?

One moment stuck out the most.

This was way back in primary school (grade 5). There were two grade 5 classes, and the teachers had swapped classes for the week to change things up. The second teacher was giving us some math work to do in class and spent some time going over it.

I was an eager student striving to please, so I finished the work quickly and put my hand up to say I was done, expecting something else to do. The teacher snapped at me, "What do you want? A goddamn brownie?!"

Inside my child mind I thought, "Hell yeah, I want a brownie!" But it was also a shock and it gave me some pause. I didn’t know how to respond to that. Afterwards, I would often think back to that moment and subsequent work would only involve "just enough." I would lose the strive to seek out more, to push myself.

Therefore, I would tell my younger self, "It is OK to push yourself; it is OK to want to learn more! Never let anyone else tell you to stop trying to improve yourself."

Many years later I overcame that hurdle, but sometimes I wonder how much damage was done from that moment. My brother is a teacher, and I've had discussions with him about that time. He remembers this teacher and has commented that with what they know about teaching now, her style of teaching was detrimental to students. From firsthand experience, I can't disagree.

I still had to push myself to put my hand up for this task though!

Anonymous
  • Having just gone through the process of choosing my daughters next school (High School) I had several conversations like this with friends. How teachers and the approach of the school makes such a significant impact on your being. I remember teachers that were such positive forces in the way they taught, encouraged and supported their students. The period of your life spent at school is within that 'formative years' range and for very good reason and so to have a teacher have such a negative impact which continues through adulthood is shameful.

    I know several teachers and I know it is a hard vocation, but the reason it is a vocation and not just a job is the influence of our teachers shapes everyones lives, whether they know it or not.

  • Push your self just beyond your limits.  That way you can grow a little each time.

  • If your not pushing yourself and learning something new all the time.  Retire

  • Never let anyone else tell you to stop trying to improve yourself.

    Precisely.

    I was also a gifted, yet overwhelming lazy, math student. I had a similar experience with a classmate who ended up being a bit too competitive for my taste. She would belittle anyone who she saw as a threat to her class standing. Even going as far as telling some that their efforts were wasted because they'd never use this kind of math pumping gas or digging ditches. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Coincidentally, ran into her years later while I was consulting at the company she worked for. Apparently she had a reputation of being this person.

  • "Never let others tell you to stop or quit trying to improve yourself." So true. We so often give others power over our lives. Most of the time we have the power to move forward or change things, but if we give others power over ourselves we will eventually lose power ourselves,or at least feel so strongly that we have lost our own power that it will take something big or major to get power back into our lives. The best way to prevent this is by being proactive along the way. "Never let others tell you to stop or quit trying to improve yourself."