Monday, April 28, 2014

Middle School Students Tell Me What They Value Most in Life: Passion, Happiness, Inspiration

As a bellringer exercise this morning, I gave each of my students a sticky note to jot down what they valued most in life. I told them that this was not a writing assignment, but they still had to write something down; it wasn’t anything required for a grade. I said I just wanted to learn from them because sometimes adults need kids to keep them grounded on what’s important. While I typically get the usual eye rolling and the whiny complaints about writing, it didn’t happen today. They were very eager to complete this task. I was forthcoming about my request, so in return, they were receptive to share with me.

This is what they told me:
  • ·         “What I value most in life is my passion: singing, playing guitar, and God. I feel like all of these things make me very happy no matter what.”
  • ·         “Pencils. I value pencils the most because they can be used to express a person’s pain through methods that don’t hurt anyone, such as drawing or writing.”
  • ·         “It’s hard to admit this, but I value money because we don’t have much of it. I feel like if we had more money, our lives would be easier.”
  • ·         “I value happiness the most because you could be the richest person in the world but still be miserable. When you choose to live happily, you make your life worth it and meaningful.”
  • ·         “Passion is most important because it leads to success and happiness.”
  • ·          “I value my mom and my friend. Centering myself around my mom is important to me especially after my dad died because I realized that I had to appreciate what I currently have.”
  • ·         “I value inspiration the most in life because I like something new to look forward to and to be inspired differently each day.”
  • ·         “I value my dad. My dad has done so much for me, and he has been so supportive. I am so thankful for him.”
  • ·         “I value happiness because if you’re always gloomy, mad, or sad, you’re never going to get anywhere in life.”
  • ·         “I value fairness because just about everything in life isn’t fair. It’s always biased, but I want to change that.”
  • ·         “I value my ability to make people laugh.”
  • ·         “I value my culture the most because it defines me.”
  • ·         “I value every single thing in my life. The people that have been part of my life have inspired me to be who I am.  My coaches push me and made me realize how valuable my passion and goals are.”

From the wise words of a 13 year old, he says this about his values: “In life, I value the sense of value the most. It doesn’t matter what I value at the time because for most humans, their values change from day to day. I value simply the knowledge that I value something, the idea that I have a goal in life.  For me, having values means you are an individual.”

My favorite moment after this bellringer exercise? No whining after I did assign them a checklist of ten different reading and writing tasks to complete before submitting their final passage analysis essay by Friday. 
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