15 Lessons That Are Taught in Schools, Even if They Are Not on Our Syllabus

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I don’t get offended easily, after all, being an outspoken feminist liberal means you just have to be a little tough.  And yet, when I came across the post “15 Life Lessons They Don’t Teach You in School” my hair stood on end just a little bit.  Besides the obvious referral to “They” which I absolutely can’t stand, I couldn’t believe what the author thought we didn’t cover in school.  SO while the lessons are sound, the assertion that these are not taught in school is simply false, read on for my counter arguments.

1.  Author states:  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” 
School is one big exercise in not sweating the small stuff, we teach kids to deal with day-to-day bumps in the road whether deliberately or not.  Your pencils are all missing; here is a new one.  You dropped your milk in your backpack; let’s clean it up.  So and so aren’t talking to you; let’s figure this out together.

2.  Author states:  “Life can be unpredictable and throw you some curves.” 
Anyone who has ever taught a day in their life have to laugh a little bit at this statement.  Most of our day is spent dealing with curveballs and so is that of the students.  No matter how much planning we do, how well crafted our intentions are, something usually goes amiss.  Presentation tools don’t work (ask my 5th graders about that one), a child flips a chair in anger, or your friend throws up all over your project, oh yes, my kids know how to deal with curves; suck it up and make the best of it.

3.  Author states:  “The most boring word in any language is “I.”
I would love to know which school this author went to where students didn’t have to interact and work together throughout the day because I don’t think it exists in the USA.  School is not about being self-centered but being a team player that creates a community of learners.  Of course, we have to teach self-reliance and self-esteem but even that is done as a team.

4.  Author states:  “People are more important than things.”
Need I refer back to how much time we spend building community in our classrooms and schools?  Enough said.

5.  Author states:  “Nobody else can make you happy.” 
I know we frequently discuss this in our classroom, how you are responsible for your own school experience and whether it is a good one or not.  By providing opportunities to discuss ownership of state of mind we are exactly teaching this lesson.

6.  Author states:  “Character and integrity count.”
I had a child plagiarize not once but twice in a year.  His biggest take away wasn’t the punishment aspect of the ordeal but what it made him look like; how it affected his character.  This major teaching point of school is something we deal with on a day-to-day basis by setting ourselves up as role models and pointing out model behavior.

7.  Author states:  Forgive yourself, your friends, and your enemies.”
Another major component of lesson taught in school.  As a 5th grade teacher this is a regular conversation after recess incidents and friendship issues.

8.  Author states:  ” A good joke can be better than any pill”
My main goal of teaching is to make sure students still love school when I am done with them.  This is accomplished through a lot of laughter and personality.  By building a sincere community founded on happiness and showing students that school is indeed fun we maintain kids that love to learn.

9.  Author states:  “There are no substitutes for exercise, eating well, and fresh air and sunshine.”
Which is why we fight to keep PE in our schools and teachers take their kids outside as much as possible.  I teach most days with the lights off to allow the natural light to dominate and any chance we can get to move a lesson outside we take.

10.  Author states:  “Persistence will eventually get you almost anything.”  
While I love the sentiment of this statement I don’t believe it.  Even if I persisted at doing gymnastics I would never make the olympic team or many other things.  However, I do believe we teach our children to not give up and try again every day.  In fact, many of us celebrate all of the times something did not work and the lesson learned from that.

11.  Author states:  “Television probably ruins more minds than drugs.”
What is this, a 1980’s PSA?  Of course mindless channel surfing limits intellectual stimulation; how many TV’s running incessantly has the author seen in our nation’s schools?

12.  Author states:  “It’s ok to fail.”
Yes!  And this is stated almost daily in our classroom.  Failure is embraced as a natural part of life and celebrated as the opportunity for exploration it is.  I don’t believe in a school where failure is not allowed if that failure is viewed as a learning opportunity rather than a detriment.

13.  Author states:  Learn from the mistakes of others.”
This is called classroom discussion, an integral part of any good lesson.

14.  Author states:  “Don’t be afraid to show and tell others you love them.”
Love is one of the key tenets of a classroom; love for your job, love for your students, and love for yourself.  Without love in a classroom it becomes a factory model of fact churning, not a rich learning environment.  You must invest yourself for the students to invest themselves.  You want love?  Come to an elementary school on the last day of school and see the tears, the hugs, the smiles.

15.  Author states:  “Live so that there is only standing room at your funeral.”  
Be the best friend you can be, be the best you you can be.  You matter indeed.  All words uttered in may classrooms around the nation.  Lifelong relationships start before we enter school and only progress from there.  Of course, school is one of the key places you meet all of those people that one day may be at your funeral, why wouldn’t it be?

So there you have it, nice sentimental sentiments that would be a cute article if it wasn’t for the assumption that none of this is taught in schools.  Who said being a teacher was only about the curriculum?  And if you don’t believe me, drop on in to room 111 any day, I will prove it you and so will my students.

4 thoughts on “15 Lessons That Are Taught in Schools, Even if They Are Not on Our Syllabus”

  1. I'm going to sum up the original "15 Life Lessons" in two sentences.Here's an easy-to-read list making blanket statements that are inherently false. If you like it, buy my book.I'm so tired of posts like that. Great counter.

  2. Wow! Very well written counterpoints! I actually wrote to the author of the post you were responding to in order to point out that while his points are all well and good, that I wouldn't be able to get through the year with my sanity intact if I didn't teach these things in my classroom.

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