Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Journey is More Important than the Destination

In Life=Risk, Jenny Luca says “I think it’s good to be reminded that not everyone who has succeeded in life had an easy road to success…Anytime you tackle something new you take a risk and you have to be prepared to wear the possibility of failure.” What a great thing for teachers to model for our students! I like to try something new every school year and I explain to my students that sometimes it will work well and sometimes it is a flop. But it was worth it just to try. Many of my students have failed at so many things academically by the time they get into high school that they seem too worn down by the failures. It almost seems cruel to have them try new skills because they might fail but it really isn’t. I try to explain to them that sometimes with traveling; it is the journey that is more important than the destination. I have to motivate them so they are willing to take the risk and try for more rather than accepting people’s opinions that they they have learning difficulties and they will never amount to anything. The real failure is not trying, not the lack of succeeding.

As my husband and I travel, we try to map out a general itinerary but along the way, this may change. We might see something we want to stop and see but if we hadn’t been traveling, we wouldn’t have known this. Whenever we stop somewhere we ask the locals what they suggest that we see and do and sometimes we like their ideas and take time to explore them. Sometimes there is a detour and we have to take a different route whether we want to or not. This detour can sometimes lead us to an unexpected adventure that turns out wonderful. Sometimes the weather is bad where we are heading and we have to change our plans in order to go someplace that has better weather. These little changes usually end up having positive results for us but if it didn’t, the positives have outweighed the negatives. Of course these changes are like a ripple effect and means that we may not go as far as we had hoped, or it costs us more money than we expected.

This is the same way with my students. They need to know that they might enjoy their journey of learning as they head for a specific destination. Of course it might take longer or seem like they have to work harder than expected but the end result is not as important as what they learn along the way. Graduation might be the end result but along the way they may learn coping skills, social skills, make better friends, and learn different things than expected. By asking for help or seeking answers in different ways, this does not signal failure but rather improves the journey. Students might also decide on changing their destination but if they didn’t even attempt to make this journey, none of this would happen.

As a teacher, it is important that I teach the students how to map out their journey, and accept that changes along the way are expected. I need to encourage them not to “park the car” out of fear and anxiety. I also need to help them appreciate the journey and the wonderful things that happen along the way. As a teacher, I can influence the journey and make it a fantastic trip or a miserable drudge and I hope that I can influence them in the right direction towards a successful trip.

Photo credit: Which way do you want me to go? By Vincent Ma

1 comment:

jenny said...

Lovely sentiments expressed here Pat. I love your last paragraph and the idea of asking that students not 'park the car'. I'm going to use that line in my practice. Thanks for making reference to my post- appreciated.
Jenny Luca.