As I was driving my son to school today the song Carry On, by FUN., came on the radio. I love the song, especially the chorus.
I thought to myself, “what a great message for kids! I need for them to hear these lyrics. This could really help them during difficult times. Jon you are so smart ”
Then before the song was over I realized that my brilliant idea was forgetting one major detail. These are children that we are talking about. Not adults. Not only are they children, but they are children who live very difficult lives and sometimes struggle just to make it to school.
Telling them to “carry on” in the midst of all that they have to deal with isn’t always what they need. Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t teach my students how to persevere during difficult times. It just means that I need to take a step back sometimes and not think of solutions from my privileged, middle class perspective.
Rather than telling my students to “carry on”, I think more often than not, I need to be carrying them to where they need to be. This is not easy because some of them are very “heavy” and they have much baggage with them. But how else will they possibly get to where they need to go?
Today I had a child in my office who is unable to control his temper. He often screams and hollers and blames everyone but himself for his own mistakes. Today was no different. He didn’t want to sit down. He didn’t want to calm down and he didn’t want to listen to anything I had to say. But I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And then he calmed down. And then he apologized, regained his composure and was able to return to class.
Essentially I had to “carry him” the whole way through this emotional journey. If at any point during this journey I had told him to “carry on” I am quite certain it would have had the opposite effect. And I am 100% certain that if at any point I would’ve applied my “brilliant idea” of playing the song by FUN. for him I think I would’ve risked losing a limb.
I think we need to be more aware of what we are asking kids to do when they are in times of crisis. We have nice posters and we have wonderful quotes all over our buildings. We know what we should say to children according to what “we” think will work and according to what we have read. Each one of us can probably rattle off ten quotes about the importance of never giving up and staying strong. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just think that there are times when instead of hearing “carry on” many of our students simply just need to be “carried”.