Shocking Statements from Students


I’m hosting an assignment in my 7th grade English class called “Love or Money?” My students have paired off and chosen a topic to write an argument essay about where individuals have had to make a choice between love or money.


For example, choosing a job that requires a lot of traveling and being away from your spouse and kids or choosing to take a lesser paying job and staying home. Or marrying the person you love with no money over someone willing to marry you who is loaded.


There are many ways the topic could be viewed, and I have been amazed by some of the topics my students have chosen.


Today I had several pair of students struggling to write the introductory paragraph of their essay. The very last hour of the day one particular group had been struggling for quite a while and kept asking me what they should do. I really wanted each group to work through the struggle on their own, but I needed to do something to help them break through the barrier of writer’s block.



So, I asked them about their topic.


“We’re arguing that pro-athletes should play for the love of the game instead of a paycheck.”


“Ok, then why don’t you introduce the topic by making a shocking statement. Choose a different career. A job that would appall the public to discover that someone was doing the job simply because they were getting rich, not because they loved their work.”


“But Mrs. Tripp, that’s what we’re doing! About athletes.”


“No, a different career. One where people typically don’t make a large sum of money and the public would be outraged if they did. A career where we expect people to do it for love, not money.”


As one partner shakes their head in confusion, the silent partner starts getting excited. “I get it! Like the person who runs the homeless shelter doing it to get rich, not to help the homeless people! That’s wrong! We would have a fit if they made a salary like pro-athletes.”



Nowhere in my mind was the manager of a homeless shelter lurking. There aren’t homeless shelters in our small, rural community. I can’t even fathom how this student came up with that idea.


But a loud and crazy classroom got quiet immediately and was impressed by the answer. Other groups offered compliments on the idea, while others added additional ideas.


You know, this “shocking statement” introduction is a stretch. However, it will accomplish two things in these students’ essay: One, it will catch the reader’s attention, and two, it will parallel the obscene amount of money we give to those who simply exercise and play a game for a job.


I wonder how much the statement has done already, though.


How many students left thinking about homeless shelters? About the people who live in them? About the people who choose, and LOVE, to work in them? About the money it takes to finance them? About what they can do to make a difference in the life of someone else?



I wonder if the argument changed from if pro-athletes should play for the love of the game or the money to is it fair that pro-athletes make millions while others can’t get a meal or a comfortable night’s sleep without the generosity of someone making barely minimum wage.


I wonder how often we miss the shocking statement right in front of us because we’re too focused on the little details.


I can’t tell you that my students left our classroom changed today, although I suspect they did, but I can tell you their teacher left changed today.

What lesson have you learned lately in a place where you didn’t expect to learn that lesson? If we are open to learning something new, we can find lessons everywhere!

This post was linked with Wordless Wednesday.

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9 comments

  • I am learning that each stretch of life has its beauty that we wouldn’t imagine and not to miss it! When I think of moments my sister and I had together working for a cause and I felt resentful of that time because I had “other” things to do but couldn’t say that. I now think, whatever I am doing, I should appreciate whatever it is that I am involved int and be happy to do it. We CANNOT waste time! My sister led a fruitful life and I want to live the same way. I want to bear a lot of fruit! My sister had raspberry bushes that her grandkids LOVED. It was a surprise gift the last year of her life and it bore so many berries!!!! I kind of equate that with my sister herself. What she did left others with a surprise sweetness and something pleasant to carry away with them. I left a strong impression on me. I lost moments of not fully appreciating my opportunities to give of myself. Now that I’m aware of it , I want to change the way I respond to others, the deeper motivation that God sees is what I mean.

  • Aw, what a thought provoking post. Teaching children can often be an eye opener because of their innocence and candidness. I’ll bet many of your students learned to think more deeply today, as well as learning to write well.
    Be blessed.

  • What an awe inspiring story, there is much to be learned from kids as they are not bias and will voice their opinions openly!
    Thanks for linkback to Oh My Heartsie Girls WW 🙂
    Have a great week!
    Karren

  • What an incredible story, Carrie. Sometimes wisdom does come from the youth. I’m wondering how the report comes out as well.

  • Shaping character in the classroom is one fo the most unique opportunities for a teacher. Thanks for teaching!

  • Interesting class you held Carrie. Though I love their original question about pro-athletes as I have wondered about that in past – many people probably do too – I also love the one you raise too which is an even more valid point to consider. Food for thought for your kids…it would be interesting to hear the outcome of what the children come up with! 🙂 <3

  • You are truly a great teacher, inspiring the kids to think of things differently. We need more people like you 🙂

    Thanks so much for linking up with Oh My Heartsie Girls. I hope to see you again next Wednesday!

  • What a thought-provoking discussion. Great way to direct their learning and dig deeper.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

  • Wow how eye opening and way to look at things differently! It sounds like you have some great students! Thanks for sharing!