Encouragement about future goes long way for teen

Posted: Monday, February 08, 2010

My sixth grade teacher directly told me that I would fail in middle school. In eighth grade, I was told countless times that I would be shocked by how hard I would have to work during my freshmen year at Soldotna High. A few weeks ago, in the first day of a new class I have to take as a senior in high school, I was again subjected to a teacher telling me how college would be so demanding and so much harder than I ever imagined. Now, I would be disappointed if my college experience proved this statement to be wrong, as I wish to be challenged. But I have to wonder, why do teachers (and other adults) feel the need to constantly besiege us with broad generalizations about how hard the future will be? We're constantly told how we'll have to learn so much more than we ever thought; they tell us how we'll have to learn to be harder, faster or stronger if we're going to have a chance at surviving the next step in our lives

Don't get me wrong, I think that if someone has had a particular experience, they should give advice and share their knowledge with those who have yet to experience what he or she has already been through. There are many life lessons that I have learned without personally experiencing the negative consequences of those particular poor choices, and I'm very appreciative of the adults who have given me this invaluable advice. But these adults who are in an influential position, such as teachers, need to realize that their strategy of simply telling students how easy their class is compared to what these kids will have to deal with later iswell, lame. The hardest classes I have ever taken in high school (which happen to be the classes I remember most fondly) were taught by teachers who almost never mentioned how "hard" college would be, yet held us to a much higher standard than we were used to. They forced us to adapt and learn how to work harder, run faster or get stronger to achieve our goals. In stark contrast, my least favorite (and easiest) classes have been those taught by teachers who do nothing but hold us to the minimal standard, all the while telling us how easy we have it. Effective teaching style? Hardly.

This strange combination of low expectations for the present and horror stories about what is to come directly relates to the mindset of fear many of my peers (myself included) have about our futures. For all the boasting we do about turning eighteen, graduating and moving out of our parent's houses, I think all of us are scared to death about the future, whether we admit it or not.

Although I've just written nearly seven hundred words on being encouraged about the future instead of scared, I also have a document open on my computer screen that is three hundred words of why I'm absolutely horrified about auditioning for college music programs. And trust me, that document was much easier to write

My days generally fluctuate between utter confidence and sheer terror when I think about my own future and the auditions that I will literally be in the middle of as you read this. Although a certain amount of fear is expected, and even good for us, when we come to a crossroad in life, it will be there naturally (think about the biggest change you've ever made in your life.

You were at least nervous, weren't you?). Instead of encouraging the fear and intimidation that will inevitably come, why can't those adults whom we are expected to look up to and respect, help us be excited about our futures? Because we have everything to be excited about.

So next time you're about to give advice to someone, whether you're 17 or 70, remember that fear will come naturally - instead, offer encouragement, and hold others to a higher standard of excellence; I will forever be indebted to those teachers (formal and otherwise) who did just that.

This article is the opinion of Hannah Romberg. Romberg is a senior at Soldotna High School.

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