For a guest post, I asked a friend of mine, Becky Dewey-Daniel, to share an interaction she had with a teacher that left a mark on her. This story touched me, and I hope it reaches you as well.
I was in high school and arguing with my religion teacher…again.
I was asking questions and sharing opinions that weren’t memorized—ideas about things I had been studying in the Bible on my own time about sex, marriage and prostitution. The pastor who was teaching us had a hard time hearing anything that wasn’t canonized and I felt he wasn’t considering anything I had to say. He was only trying to “win” an argument and didn’t care about me. (Not a great strategy for convincing a curious teenager).
I felt completely defeated. None of my classmates cared. They just wanted to zone out and make it through the class. To make it worse, one the teachers I looked up to came in during the class to pick something up from her desk while the pastor was lecturing me. I was horrified. What was she going to think of me? Some sacrilegious trouble maker? I was doing well in her math class. Now I was just embarrassed and wanted to stop offering my opinion to a teacher…ever.
Day went on.
Math class started. I barely looked up.
Math class ended.
Teacher gave me a note as a I left the room.
It is good to think —it is good to ponder. Being in disagreement with someone doesn’t make you stupid or wrong, it only makes you smarter. It is hard to defend your ideas—especially when they are so abstract. Don’t ever think your ideas don’t matter—because you especially carry a unique view on life. Your views are totally interesting! I know what it felt like for you today. It ‘s happened to me too! 🙂
It felt like redemption. And ok, the part about being smarter than someone I disagree with might not always be 100% accurate, but as a teenager about to give up on having any more meaningful conversations with my educators, it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I kept my head up. I learned when to fight for a new opinion and when to hold my opinions for someone who would listen….and going on seven years, the note has stayed in my wallet. Thank you, Ms. B!
Becky Dewey-Daniel is the Director of Enrollment Marketing at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.