Archive for Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to school advice

August 12, 2009

It is back to school time throughout the area! If you remember when you were younger and heading to school it was a time of great excitement and anticipation. In my case, I anticipated the start of football but wasn’t too thrilled about classes. Come to think of it, I’m sure there are many who were also in that same position.

However, I really believe that my main goal was graduation and getting on with the rest of my life. And, I think that there are many who enjoy the extra-curricular activities and try to survive academics.

I have a few suggestions for those young people who are heading back to school based on seven plus decades of living. First, when it comes to classes, do what I suggest, not what I did. I will admit that there were classes that I didn’t like, didn’t have any interest in and, therefore, skimmed through. If I had it to do over again, I would pay more attention in classes such as algebra, geometry, etc.

I am very happy that I took business courses. I have used typing skills all my life and as a journalist, the ability to bang out stories was important. I am also glad that I learned simple bookkeeping, too.

I wish I had taken more shop classes as I would like to be better at carpentry and auto mechanics. On the other hand, instead of shop classes I took more literature and history. You probably know by now that I love literature and history.

I am glad that I had teachers who recognized my potential and looked beyond my performance. An English and journalism teacher, Hazel Pullman, got me involved in writing and that pointed me toward a profession that I loved.

If I were a high school student now, I would certainly take a foreign language, probably Spanish. In our new world, being bilingual is critical. In our travels I have been impressed with how young people in other countries speak excellent English, as well as their own language and sometimes another.

I urge young people to take advantage of the opportunity they have to get a quality education. In many parts of the world that opportunity is not available. It is really sad to see young people of this country squander one of their greatest assets, the chance to receive a quality education and be a lifelong learner.

I have a few suggestions for young people. First, you have to pay attention and this means shutting out distractions when you are in class. There is nothing that a friend has to tell you, text you or e-mail you that is as important as the material the teacher is presenting.

Along that line, if there is one thing that we’ve forgotten, it is respect. Teachers deserve your respect and you need to show it in every class. I know there are far too many smart aleck role models on TV and in music who thrive on disrespect. They, however, don’t live in the real world. Being respectful never hurt anyone.

I hope that you will be active in school, too. I have heard kids tell me they weren’t playing football or being in the band because they wanted to work. Remember that you will be working for the next 40 or 50 years of your life and you only have four years to take part in sports or other activities. Old guys like me can buy cars, but we can’t play football any longer. And years down the road when you go to a class reunion, you don’t talk much about jobs, you remember the joys of band, choir or sports.

Getting an education is extremely important. If you want a good career, you’ve got to develop your academic skills. The key to a successful future certainly starts with the amount of knowledge that you being gaining during your time in school.

The best advice I can give you is to enjoy your time in school. Your experiences will provide the backdrop for the remainder of your life. Work hard and cherish this most important time in your life.


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