Judging My Own People

The title of this post was inspired by a comment made to me by a girl in one of my classes, which caught me by surprise.  During a class discussion, she told me that I judge my own people.  In the context of her statement, ‘my people’ are the physical education majors in the class, which is comprised of mostly elementary education and health/physical education majors.  I won’t deny that her observation and comment is entirely correct, and I want to elaborate on my ‘judgement’.  I’ve had the idea about writing this post for a long time now, and I’m ready for it. Let’s get into it.:

I don’t like trainers.  I don’t like gym teachers.

Those are two fields I want to succeed in professionally,  so how can I not like these people?  You may find it confusing that I actually love these people, but what I don’t like are the stereotypes associated with these professions.  In fact, I downright despise them, but I won’t  deny that they they do exist for a reason.  Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of a group, based on prior assumption and popular belief.  We can all agree that stereotypes aren’t universally applicable, they have become popular for a reason, right?  Maybe I dislike the stereotype so much because this is what most people think about when they think “gym teacher”:

Nice track suit, Coach.

Fortunately, the academic side of the profession has come a long way from the supervised recreation, roll-out-the-ball-and-spin-your-whistle days. There are many professionals who genuinely care about their students education, and don’t just teach because they want to coach after school.  (I’m lucky enough to have these professionals as professors and mentor teachers during my observations.)  However, if your thought process is as simple as, “I like sports, I’m good at sports, I’ll think I’ll teach gym,” it may not be the best indicator of your passion for education.

As I come closer to finishing my degree, I’ve had a variety of experiences and can certainly tell the ‘good’ teachers from the ‘bad’ teachers.  It’s purely from personal observation and opinion, but I think that it’s relatively easy for me to predict the teacher that some of my classmates will become based on their demeanor and performance in class.  Some of them are going to be fantastic teachers, and I’d love to work with them one day.  Some of them, on the other hand, care about little other than scraping by with the bare minimum, and it drives me totally bonkers.  You want some examples?  Here ya go:

  • “Why do we need to know this, I just want to teach gym!”  – Said by a student in my Kinesiology class last fall.  Yes, I remembered something a year old, I was that offended by it.
  • “I don’t want to student teach with you, you’re going to actually do all of the requirements!”  – Said to me by a classmate last nightLast night.  You’re a semester away from graduating, and that’s your mindset?!

While these are obviously not good examples of a positive attitude, they are coming form students.  I’ve found that I’ve gleamed much more valuable information from teachers that are in the field, who have the job experience to match their education.  I’m learning a ton at my health education placement, and my mentor teacher dropped this gem on my head yesterday:

“I’ve been teaching for 10 years, and I still learn something every day.”

To me, that’s a beautiful statement.  It’s both simple and profound, and I think it demonstrates a philosophy that more people should live by, both professionally and in their daily lives.  Each and every day, we have experiences to learn and grow, as people and as professionals.  Maybe we’re not obligated to take those opportunities, but personally I wish we were.  As much as you possibly know, we can never know too much.

With some quick trolling of quote websites, it’s easy to find hundreds of statements about the importance of education and life-long learning.  Instead of selecting just one, I think that they’re all true.  In the context of this post, I think that a dedication to learning is what separates those who are successful and those who aren’t successful.  By successful, I mean they enjoy their lives, not the size of their paycheck or bank account.  “What will I learn today?” is a much more powerful question than “How much will I make today?”

Hopefully you’ve realized that I love both teachers and trainers, and I hope to be succeed as both.  (I think I’m off to a good start so far.)  The idea of consistent education and learning is one I’ve discussed numerous times before, and I find it to be universally applicable.  In my old age I’ve noticed that the happiest people seem to be those who are dedicated to learning about the world around them, and I really like learning.  You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  (I couldn’t help myself!)

If I were to rethink my ‘judgement’ of anyone, it’s not nearly as severe as I first implied.  I’m pretty kumbaya in fact, and want people to be happy.  From my perspective, a passion for knowledge is one of the most important things contributing to this success.  Since I’ve already quoted John Lennon, I’ll now quote Nas: “Read more, learn more, change the globe.”

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