Monday, April 30, 2012

See, TV can teach you something

“The rest of your life is a long time and whether you know it or not, it's being shaped right now. You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate, or bad luck, or bad choices, or you can fight back. Things aren't always gonna be fair in the real world, that's just the way it is. But for the most part you get what you give.”
I recently took a trip back into the world of One Tree Hill, and although I’ve been ridiculed for years for watching a “teen drama,” I have always stood by this show. Two weeks ago was the series finale, and was reminded of a lot of the things that made this show great; things that inspired me as I was working my way through high school and college. The quote above is from Bethany Joy Lenz, who played Haley James Scott on the show. She was a teacher, and she makes this speech to her English class on one of her first days at Tree Hill High. So yeah, One Tree Hill is a teen drama, and it’s from the same network that spawned The Vampire Diaries (which I love, but not because it’s inspiring), but One Tree Hill made some good points. Most of all, it was about a group of kids who made bad decisions, and then took responsibility for them (eventually). I think that all teens should have to watch at least the first four seasons of OTH, if for no other reason than it is about a teenage boy who READS.

The rest of your life is being shaped right now. I took today to introduce this idea to my students, who, on a good day, are hard to handle. I teach at a school where bad choices are not only a daily occurrence, they’re expected by teachers and administrators, and all of the people who are supposed to believe in our students. If my kids take nothing else away from this school year, I want it to be the knowledge that every decision they make is having an effect on the rest of their lives. I want them to be able to give others a chance, not because they want to necessarily, but because it’s the right thing to do.

So today we wrote lists, and not just any lists, we wrote self-reflective lists. I had come across a MySpace post that I had made when I was a senior in high school called “50 Things I Don’t Care if You Know.” When I re-read it, I was reminded of all of the craziness that accompanied my high school journey, and also how much just creating and posting that list helped me get through that difficult year. So I told my students that the best way to start fighting back against all the naysayers and doubters was to get to know what was rattling around in their heads. So I gave them a modified version of Haley’s speech, my list (which they of course found hysterical) and asked them to create their own. It went over well for the most part, and many of the kids really enjoyed it. If my assignment reached even one or two, I consider this a success.

My kids are dreamers, whether they realize it or not. They are poets and philosophers and one day, the rest of the world will see the things that I see in each of them. They are the Lucases and Peytons and Nathans and Haleys of this life, and they have the strength to overcome the obstacles that life has thrown at them. Our lives are being shaped right now, our choices, right or wrong, are in the past, and we are fighting back.

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