Sunday, November 29, 2009


"It came to be the natural rule of life with him, that no one should add to the burden of the world but that each should try to lighten it."
Do you lighten the burden of the world, or do you add to it? I have been thinking about this a lot because I think that I sometimes add to people's burdens when I am right about something and feel like I should share my "rightness" with others. Surely it's my responsibility to help others to see the error of their ways? Or is it? As a teacher, my job is to teach, assess, correct, and reteach. But teaching is fairly straightforward in that I have to math textbook with the answers. You either understood, did it right and got the correct answer, or you didn't. Life is not so simple. People have stress, and illness, and accidents, and relationship problems and financial difficulties etc etc. So, even if you're "right", telling the widow of a smoker that it was his own fault that he died is not helping to lighten the widow's burden (this happened to a friend of mine this past summer).
Therefore, even if I am right. And indignant about someone's actions. And think they did it to themselves. I am NOT going to add to their burdens by forcing my rightness down their throat. I want to lighten the burdens of those around me. I want to be like my current principal. When I was away due to illness, he didn't give me a hard time. He just sent me an email saying that I was awesome, and thanks for planning so well for the substitute. He could have told me that it was a bad time to be away, that it was unfortunate timing, that it would create unnecessary hassle for him. He would have been right. But it would not have changed my absence, so why bother. Instead, he phoned every student's family to cancel my student-led conferences and encouraged me to take care of myself and come back when I felt better. His words alone made me feel better. And lightened my load.

These are two of the Santa letters my students wrote. We have been discussing persuasive writing, how to convince someone and how a compliment never hurts. I totally laughed when I read the letters because they had so obviously taken these lessons to heart. Both of the letters are unedited and were written by grade 2s.