Giving up on Students

“All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” (Aristotle)

Such are the quotes of great men that educators should go by. Circumstances, however, take away the will and enthusiasm to strive to inspire and instill unto youth the greatness that is education.  Perhaps the all too quick pace of modern life, the question and demand of dealing with problems at hand, all provide frustration within the school system which inevitably penetrates the classroom.

Is that reason enough, one may ask, for an educator, a person of divine responsibility (as seen by ancient and ideal modern Greeks) to give up on a student?  This writer thinks not, but then educators are mere mortals with human strengths and weaknesses which should be carefully examined under the microscope.  What then precedes a teacher giving up on a student?

*personal tribulations

As mentioned before, teachers are mere human beings.  They too encounter problems in their personal lives.  Most teachers are able to leave their world outside the classroom, but there are certain events which make such a task more like an unsurpassable hurdle.  Grueling hours of work, the responsibility of the lives of youngsters and a continual issue of adequate performance put great pressure on someone apart from taking time away from their personal lives.  And what if in the personal lives of those teachers there are children who are without a second parent or both parents are constantly away due to obligations?  A dire consequence for some may be that those children stray away from the clear straightforward path paved for them by the parent(s) and steer towards dark, short cuts full of lurking evils.   

In such events, a teacher’s work and duty may become too burdensome and dealing with a difficult student may be too trying to bear.  Feelings of personal failure may distort self-esteem and the belief that he/she is incapable of helping the pupil may take over.   

*the student

To begin with, students too are human beings with strengths and weaknesses; even more so than their educators.  In this modern-day world, life is more complex than in the past.  Today, children are bombarded with countless diverse messages all at once.   Parents and teachers demand of them to do and be in a particular way.  Their peer society may have other views, poles apart from the adults in their lives.  And, finally, the media have still other purposes and influences on youngsters. 

As a result, a student’s life today is not clear cut.  In the case that parents are usually away, which may not only be in a physical sense, the young person may well be required to grow up on his/her own.   A few manage to do a good job of that, most though, do not.  Human needs include belonging, self-worth, love and protection and demand to be resolved.  A child will seek to meet these needs any way he/she sees fit.  It is at this time that school takes second place, for in the view of feeling left alone in the cold to fend for himself/herself, the young individual’s instinct for self preservation will opt to cover the stronger need first.  It is during this process that these souls lose their way.  And it is then that no matter what a teacher does, his/her student may not heed the effort.

This writer, nonetheless, believes in the power of will.  The will to do and be in principle what one has vowed to, is what will guide anyone through trying periods of life.  In closing, it is always worth studying the teachings of great people.  To educators and students alike, the quote which follows is meant as a word of encouragement, as a beam of light in the dark tunnels forced to tread through:

“My dear children: I rejoice to see you before me today, happy youth of a sunny and fortunate land. Bear in mind that the wonderful things that you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labour in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honour it, and add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common. If you always keep that in mind you will find meaning in life and work and acquire the right attitude towards other nations and ages.”

(Albert Einstein talking to a group of school children. 1934)