Today, I was reflecting on my time spent as a Middle Grades English Teacher. This period simultaneously marked one of the most rewarding yet challenging eras of my life. I recall the attitude of so many of my students towards learning and I get a bit of a chuckle as well as shake my head in frustration. ‘Why, you may ask?’ The range of responses toward learning new information was as varied as each student was different. Some students would eagerly ask questions expressing their genuine desire for knowledge, others would be too timid to admit they did not understand, and some would simply flat out voice their disinterest in learning anything new no matter how beneficial it might be to them presently or in the future.
A personal philosophy of mine is that as long as we continue to learn, we continue to grow! Conversely, I believe the opposite of this is true; that if we are not consistently learning new information, we are stunting our growth and ultimately contributing to our own demise and self-destruction. A baby enters the world and involuntarily begins his or her learning process; gaining such knowledge about hunger, loneliness, discomfort and fatigue – and what it feels like to have these pains relieved. As the child continues to grow and develop, learning moves from and involuntary state to a voluntary state. And, certainly once we enter into our teenage and adult years, we bear complete responsibility for learning or not learning. There are many factors that can affect an individual’s attitude towards learning; variables that range from background, motivation, and social support to the accessibility of financial resources and parental attitudes toward learning.
I wish to focus on one particular character trait however; as I believe that this attribute is the missing link for so many of us looking to get ‘further ahead’ in life. The attribute of which I am speaking is “HUMILITY.” Humility is defined as the quality or condition of having a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. From my own personal experiences in life, I can share with you that this is not always the easiest virtue to attain or maintain. We live in a world where we often feel compelled to prove how much we know. It is this very attitude that many of us take to our schools, our work place, into meetings and even conversations with our friends and loved ones.
Most recently, I encountered an experience that gave me the opportunity to exercise the art of humility all over again. The drummer of our band, HEAT was not too long ago assigned to learn ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore. This song would be performed best if he could get from behind the drum set and interact more with the audience. The only way this would happen is if someone else assumed the role of drummer for this particular song. Well, I was hired as a singer for my current band and could very well have had blocked my opportunity to learn a new skill with this attitude. However, I chose to adopt a different approach. I basically said to our drummer, “I don’t know, but if you teach me, I am willing to learn.” There was something so humbling about uttering those words and presenting myself to him in this manner. It was not about me! It was about what could be done to help our team achieve our goal. What could be done to give another STAR the opportunity to SHINE? I believe that if more of us adopt a similar attitude, we will be amazed at how far we can go in life; what goals we can achieve and what successes await us. As a result of choosing humility,our drummer got a chance to perform unhindered and I got to learn a new skill and grow in an area that I may otherwise have never had the confidence or the faith that I could grow in. This is the art of Humility.