Happy Chinese New Year! Yesterday in my ESL Bible class, I told my students how excited I was to celebrate, being half Asian because my mom was from Thailand. Some of the American kids in there have known me for years but only one, Annalize, challenged the statement- the rest simply accepted it because they trust me. This post is from 10-25-05 and is one of my very earliest posts.
One of the great things about teaching is that kids believe you. One of scariest things is that... kids believe you. Even with the erosion of trust in authority figures over the past several decades, students, especially younger ones, accept what we say and sometimes almost with blind faith. Allow me to illustrate.
Besides my teaching responsibilities in the Bible department at Westbury Christian School, I am also the middle school girls' basketball coach. We have a practice period built into our schedule at the beginning of the school day and I always come dressed in my coaching attire of shorts, T-shirt, running shoes, and whistle. In late October, the weather in Houston cools off a bit and I add long pants to my basketball wardrobe. Last year, right after the weather change, I came one morning wearing medical scrub pants to cover my legs. (During summer mission trips to Honduras, many of our group wear scrubs- they are light weight and easy to wash and have ready for the next day of work.) This particular morning, I ran into one of my players who arrived early. I have to preface the following conversation by saying I like to kid with my players and students and assume they know when I am serious and when I am being facetious. It started with a question.
"Coach, why are you wearing those scrubs?"
"Well, you may not know this but besides being a coach and teacher, I am also a doctor. In fact, I'm leaving as soon as school is over today, running to the hospital, and performing a heart transplant."
That was about as outlandish a statement as I can think of but listen to the response of the young lady.
"Coach, you must get really tired!"
She never questioned anything I said. This seventh grader trusted me implicitly and it never crossed her mind that I might be telling her something just a LITTLE bit untrue. It also isn't that she is naive about doctors- her mother is an RN and she has grown up around around the medical community. By the next morning, I was feeling guilty about letting the joke go on that long so I called her over and tried to backtrack. It wasn't that easy.
"Hey, hon, I'm not really a doctor. I was just pulling your leg."
She was not convinced.
"Let me ask you a question,Coach. Where did you get those scrubs?"
I responded truthfully.
"From a medical supply store."
"I knew it-you are a doctor!"
I think by the end of the school year she finally was convinced that my second profession was a hoax but there may still be a lingering doubt. Once a child has a belief, it is difficult to shake it. What a responsibility we have to be truthful and honest with the innocents. Jesus warned about the consequences of leading children astray. It isn't hard- they want to believe those they love and respect and that should be a wake up to all who deal with children. I saw a sign in our hallway in the past that said, "When it doubt, tell the truth." We can do better than that- just leave out the 'when in doubt' part. As a reformed, if not renowned, heart surgeon, I can tell you. It's the only way.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org