We have to start by showing our students other areas of success. I was talking to my class about traveling home on a plane. “Do your ears really pop” my student asked. “Yea, is that a real thing? I heard about it.” another asked. After a quick poll 12 of the 18 students in the room had never been on a plane and most had never been outside of Texas or Oklahoma. Many rarely even leave the area around our school. I have always enjoyed traveling and was lucky to be able to use my job money in high school to travel during vacations. By college I had witnessed many different cultures, met people from all over, and had an idea about different lifestyles and opportunities that existed. My students do not. Many haven’t seen different levels of lifestyle or success. They see the community they live in and do not know what else exists.
How do you set a goal for more when you don’t understand what is available? Second, how do you care about a goal if you have no means or support in reaching it? If we can not only show our students the potential jobs, schools, and lifestyles there are, but also EMPOWER them to feel they can reach these goals, think of the drive and motivation we can instill in them. Our schools need to have these conversations because not all communities show the best example. If we want students to take school seriously we have to show them why. While students continue to cling on to the faint dream of sports, they fail to push themselves in other areas of their lives and miss actual opportunities. We need to break the idea that they need to be the next point guard to be successful, and we need to break it now. Otherwise in two years I am going to have a lot of high school graduates sitting by their mailbox waiting for the scout letter that will never arrive, perpetuating the cycle the exists in their community.