Fountain of Youth Vial #3: Be human - Brrreeeport

OK, as we've written how to find the fountain of youth as you teach others, let's recap. Vial #1 was Add Variety and Vial #2 was to be observant. Vial #3 is very important -- Be Human

Admit your mistakes

Richard J. Needham,
a Canadian humorist, said:

"Strong people make as many and as ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at them, learn from them. That is how they become strong."
It is OK for kids to know that you indeed are human.

I believe that when I am willing to admit my mistakes that I create an attitude of openness and honesty. The students are more likely to admit that they need my help. (Notice, I do not apologize and make excuses ALL the time -- not usually on a daily basis in every class.)

Admit it when they taught you something
I love it when students discover something new! The other day a student taught me how to do an anchor in wikispaces. I honestly didn't know how. I immediately went and had the student demonstrate to the class. It boosted his self esteem!

As my students researched hacking -- they taught me about some new incidents. (You can learn from them too at the wiki and listen to their podcast on the ethics of hacking.)

Admit you don't know the answer

When you ask a lot of questions -- expect to be asked difficult ones. Sometimes I don't know!

When this happens, I always admit it and handle it one of two ways:
  1. Allow kids who are motivated earn extra points on the days work if they can find and print out the answer. We discuss the answer at the beginning of class the next day. I allow ANY student who finds the answer to print it and turn it in.
  2. I tell them I will research and get back to them.

Forgive yourself when you make mistakes
Sometimes we are haunted by our past. The student we couldn't reach. The mistake we made in discipline when we read a student wrong. The time we failed. The promise we didn't keep. The loved one we hurt.

Rev. John Plummer had a mistake. He was haunted by the Vietnam-era Pulitzer Prize winning photo of nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc, naked and horribly burned running from a napalm attack. You see, Plummer was responsible for setting up the air strike.

He was twice assured there were no civilians in the area -- he said "he knew he had done everything possible to makes ure the area was clear of civilians."

When Kim Phuc spoke at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC and Plummer arranged to meet her. Plummer told the Virginia Advocate.

"She saw my grief, my pain, my sorrow. She held out her arms to me and embraced me. All I could say was 'I'm sorry; I'm so sorry; I'm sorry' over and over again. At the same time, she was saying, 'It's all right; it's all right; I forgive; I forgive."
Plummer could have crawled in a corner and mourned -- he didn't! He became a well-loved minister and when he had the opportunity, he sought reconciliation!

Sometimes we cannot find the student or coworker to apologize. But we must learn to seek reconciliation and ultimately to forgive ourselves! We cannot carry such baggage around with us. We are only human! Forgive yourself!

Forgive others when they make mistakes!

A pivotal national moment of forgiveness happened between George C. Wallace and Vivian Malone Jones. In 1963, George Wallace, then governor of Alabama, literally stood in the door of the University of Alabama, preventing Vivian, a young African -American woman from enrolling as a student. Thirty three years later, Wallace awarded the first Lurleen B. Wallace Award of Courage to Vivian. (The award was named in Honor of Wallace's wife and is given to women who have made outstanding contributions to the state of Alabama.) At that time, Wallace publicly apologized to Jones for his actions. Jones publicly forgave Wallace.

One of the onlookers was Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He said "This event is really a moment of reconciliation and redemption."
There is a time for discipline and having consequences for one's action. There is also a time for forgiveness and grace -- not getting what you deserve! Sometimes, I have student and they know that I "have caught them." They admit they are wrong and I know that they are crushed. That is when I forgive and give grace. As one who is forgiven myself, I feel compelled to forgive others even when they do not deserve it! In a school where I can share my faith, it often opens an opportunity for me to explain WHY I forgive.

This does not mean lax discipline! It does not mean unfairness to other students who have done the same thing. It does mean to help another when it is your power to do so and you know they are sincerely sorry. Sometimes the wisest thing is to not give someone what they deserve!

Peter Marshall, Sr
., once chaplain of the US Senate, said:

"Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with."

You are human.
Do not expect yourself to be perfect. I have seen people aged far beyond their years because:
  • they cannot forgive themselves,
  • they cannot forgive others,
  • they hold themselves to a standard far beyond what is possible
  • they want students to think they are infallible

You are not perfect. You are a human being doing the very best you can do. Give yourself a break! Admit you're human and get over it!

I struggled with forgiving some people in my late 20's from a business deal. I started getting gray hair. It was a wake up call. I dealt with the process to forgive them and honestly forgave them. My gray hair literally went away and 10 years later isn't back yet. I firmly believe that forgiveness is an essential key to the fountain of youth. (I wrote about this in my daily devotional blog today -- its on my mind)

Speaking of being human!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a very humorous and amusing tag on Technorati right now -- brrreeeport. It is an imaginary tag created by Robert Scoble to instruct bloggers on how to increase traffic to their blog (and join the A list). It is worth a read and a tag. It is vital to tag your blogs. I told you how a couple of days a go.

If you're not tagging, you're wasting your time! (Scoble has a good blog about this!)

Here are mine today!

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