Yesterday, I had two meetings that stimulated deep thought. One was with a superintendent of a public school district. The other was with a recent graduate who is currently void of ambition, direction and confidence.
During the superintendent meeting, I was asked my thoughts about the school system and what could be improved. I had no good answer at the time, but I found my inspiration to accurately answer that question after talking to the recent grad later in the day.
I believe there needs to be a class, or a series of classes every high schooler must take which teaches personal development, self esteem, inner strength and success strategies. Some of us are lucky to have had a great set of parents who taught us those things, or had a teacher in high school that took an interest and wanted to see us succeed.
But for many kids, there is nobody in their lives who is there to teach them how to dream. There is nobody who is there to teach them the concept of self-definition. There is nobody to show them the possible paths to success.
When I was in high school, I got lucky because the band instructor was a man named Al Roselieb. He decided to rewrite the rule that states that a member of the marching band must be able to march. He allowed a kid in a wheelchair to become a part of the “Marching Mustangs,” and he engineered a way for me to roll my power chair and play the drums at the same time. His invention, which involved moving the joystick of my power chair from the arm rest to the foot plate, has endured for 34 years! I still drive my chair with my foot.
His example of using “outside the box” thinking inspired me to believe that there were no challenges I could not overcome. It was just a matter of applying my brain to the problem and I would find a way to be involved. His actions led to the development of social skills that resulted in friendships that remain strong to this day. His actions led to a determination to force my will and never allow anyone to exclude me because of my disability. His actions led to the development of “The Strength Coach!”
But without his influence at that impressionable stage in my life, how would I have defined myself? What kind of self image and esteem for myself would I have developed? What would my social skills have been like had I not established those friendships with my band buddies?
I believe every kid must get exposed to lessons in self development, positive thinking and how to succeed. The curriculum for this new class could include self-help classics like “Think & Grow Rich,” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” combined with contemporary materials by experts like Anthony Robbins or Les Brown. Guest speakers would include professionals who hail from the same neighborhoods and socio economic backgrounds as the kids in school. Social media can be created as a source for students to encourage each other and share their dreams. The final project could be a speech, or a column for publication about the kid’s dreams!
Today, especially in low-income communities, students don’t see a way to succeed if they can’t play ball or sing. They feel trapped and have no motivation. They see graduating from high school as a milestone but not a stepping stone. Our education system needs to teach our kids how to dream! How to become inspired! How to succeed! Today, I’m sharing this post with the superintendent. And I’m giving the recent grad a self-help book that I’m currently reading.
Your thoughts on such a class? What can be done to make this happen?
In the meantime, if you would like to inspire students at your school, consider inviting “The Strength Coach” to speak at a school assembly or to spend a day speaking to different classes. Just fill out the form or call me at 228-424-3896.