Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Why all the pressure?

Scene: Safe in my car after a LONG day at school that was characterized by abilities tests, skinned knees, split lips, hurt feelings, and frustrated parents.

As I journeyed home I couldn't help but contemplate on all the pressure put on us by life. I spent an hour and a half today giving a standardized abilities test (similar to IQ) to my 6 & 7 year old students. We will do the same the next two days. I can't help but wonder why society has decided to place importance on learning a child's complete mental ability at the age of 6. Is it really important right now?

My mind quickly jumps to the end of the day when I spent 45 minutes after school conferencing with a mom and dad who wanted to know how much more homework I could give their first grader because "he plays enough." They wanted to know how to get him to the top of the class. I wanted to yell, "He's in first grade!! Let him be a little boy, please!! He only gets to do it once!!"

Also rolling around in my head is a quickly expanding list of things that need to be done at school in the next few days: reading assessments to determine reading level, find some time during my regular day to pull a particular student to work on reading skills to determine if he needs to be referred for dyslexia, make plans for math/science activities for an evening program in a few weeks, find information on Europe for a multicultural evening in a few weeks, find information to send home with the parent who wants extra homework, input and evaluate reading assessments to make sure I am serving each child's needs...and the list could go on.

Sometimes I wonder when teaching got so hard. I think that there is a need to hold teachers accountable. I think that the trend in education leans toward making education available to all students by differentiating lessons as necessary--this is very wise. But, a part of me wonders, when will all the pressure stop? I am only human. Some days I can't do as much as others, and I hate thinking that my students suffer because of this. I also hate realizing that all of my energy goes to school and very little is reserved for anything else outside of school.

Where did all this pressure come from? Is it self-inflicted? Maybe some, but I don't think completely. Is it from the administration? Sometimes yes, but something is pressuring them as well. Is it the government? Often yes, but there is still something underneath it all.

I wonder how much of it has to do with our need to stay busy so we don't have to think about anything deep or meaningful. Have you ever taken a minute to sit quietly and just "be"? Did you find yourself thinking of things that needed to be done, or did you find it too quiet to be comfortable? We are always on the go trying to fix everything ourselves. "If I can just work 30 more minutes, I will feel productive." Honestly, when is that attitude ever going to stop? We will always find more to do.

Imagine what would happen in this country if everyone stopped for an hour a day--or even just 30 minutes--to just sit quietly and "be". What do you think we would hear? For those of us that our Christians, I believe we would be more likely to hear God's direction for us. For those that are not Christians, I believe they will be more likely to hear God's call into their lives. Just imagine that for a minute.

Do you think the pressure would diminish? Do you think the sense of urgency and busyness would lift off of our shoulders? Why don't you try it? I can't control the whole world...I can't even control you. But, I can make a decision to spend some time quietly everyday that will allow me to hear and to release the pressure of the world in to much more reliable Hands. I challenge you to join me and take note of the difference it makes in your life.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden in light." Matthew 11: 28-30


Zack said...

Great thoughts there! I know I make myself so bussy I can't think about certain things. But I also like my quite time to just sit and relax (spelling error?). It's important for all of us to be still and take it easy. Thank you for these thoughts. God bless!