Monday, November 12, 2012

Really??? They Listened?



This week I had the privilege to talk with a bunch of middle schoolers. The night before I was to face these small monsters I was filled with terror. Scheming for any possible way to get out of it, I thought about feigning sickness. That lie would not have been too far off course noting the way my stomach was feeling. My biggest concern was based simply on my fear for survival. I was worried that a classroom full of middle schoolers would eat me for lunch. My assignment was to speak to 20 – 30 little people at 25 minute intervals nine times throughout the day. The eight graders came first and to my great delight when I looked up, they were listening and full of questions.  
After my introduction, I wanted them to get to know me a bit, so I ask them some true or false questions. I had several outlandish false claims but the true ones seemed to cause their heads to tilt in wonder.  
Which is true or false? (all true)
·  As a boy I was shot in the head with an arrow?
·  I was born into a Mennonite farm community and lived on a potato farm until I was six years old.
·  As a youngster our family did not have enough beds so I slept in the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers until I was four years old.
·  When I was your age I would not kiss a girl because I was afraid the girl would laugh at how silly my kiss was?
·  I have had 20 car accidents, two motorcycle accidents and two of my car accidents happened on the same day fifteen minutes apart.
·  I barely graduated from High School and swore I would never go to college.
I knew I had little to offer the brainiacs in the room. My hope was to offer encouragement to the kids where school came hard. That is a story I know well, even with nearly 50 years separating me from those days the feelings are as close as yesterday. My story, Angel with Wrinkles I hoped would give them a window into the beginning of my story and it did wake up most of the kids.
The crux of my talk laid out a few simple principles I have learned along the way.
o   Everyone is smart at something. Maybe it isn’t school work but that is not evidence you are not smart at something.
o   80% of success is showing up ( I know not very original but still true)
o   Fear is part of the process but push through it and take advantage of scary opportunities.
Who knows if anything said made a difference but I said what I know and I am hopeful. All in all I had more fun than I thought possible and I feel honored that I was allowed to share a bit of myself with some young people.

17 comments:

Sylvia K said...

A great post! I'm sure the kids enjoyed their time with you! Being a former teacher I vividly remember my first day in a classroom -- I was petrified!! But the kids were wonderful, I relaxed and we all had fun and not for just one day, but every day of the semester! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Linda said...

What a neat experience, GQ; and I'm sure there were many students who could identify with you and your experiences. Hopefully, some of the teachers were listening, too, if you shared about your angel with wrinkles.

Your mention of sleeping in a drawer reminded me of a friend of mine who came from a very large family. He liked to say that he always stayed out late so that he could sleep on top. :)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

What a lucky opportunity for you! I miss working with kids. How was you visit arraigned?

Brighid said...

you saddled up anyway and gotter done...good go!

Betty said...

What an interesting life you've had. Mine is so dull by comparison. sigh

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

Wow that should have been a delightful experience! (I am scared of middle schoolers and even younger kids because of the unanswerable questions they ask)

Debra said...

Your a brave man GQ. I faint at the thought of standing up in front of any group of folks an speaking. Some kinda social anxiety thing.

Pat said...

I can just imagine their faces as you gave the true and false quiz, especially about all the accidents you've had-middle schoolers eat that stuff up!
I'm happy for both you and the kids..both winners!

Susan Deborah said...

Interacting with students is surely a high for me any day. Of course, on some days I do get a bit run down but to see a whole group of kids listening to you, nodding and asking questions is a wonderful experience. I am sure they enjoyed the time as much as you. In the next post, you should perhaps list some of the questions that the young ones asked you.

Joy always,
Susan

Frank Baron said...

If we ever decide to meet for a beer, I'm driving.

Hilary said...

Sounds like you and those kidlets each had a wonderful day. There's so much that can be learned from each other. I'm glad for you.. and for them.

AngelMc said...

Wow. That's quite an honor.

Dianne said...

Frank's comment is hilarious!!

my daughter-in-law teaches middle school so I know they can be a tough audience
I bet they loved you :)

hugs from me and Hope

troutbirder said...

They can be tough to reach but then again are still curious and don't generally hold grudges like high schoolers. Fun series of post Gray Quill. Your mention of a mermaid and the trout fisherman brought me back to author Robert Travers famous troutfishing lines...

Destiny's child... said...

Sounds like the kids had a great time. I would have really enjoyed a session where the speaker shot true or false statements about himself. Forget school, I would enjoy something like that anywhere. Enjoyed the post, Grayquill. :)

Dianne said...

thanks for your comment
it's never too late to do something, anything
the IJM has all sorts of links
they are a faith based org. that does great work
just goggle International Justice Mission and check them out

hugs from me and Hope

Hilary said...

You're (over)due for a post, Mr. GQ... :)