Back to School. . .Again

The opening scene of Grease 2, the campy 1982 sequel to

The most successful movie musical of all time. Who knew?
The most successful movie musical of all time. Who knew?

Grease (1978) which is to this day the most successful movie musical of all time (I couldn’t believe it myself…), features a school yard full of leather-jacket-wearing, hair-combing, lipstick-smearing, cigarette-smoking horny high school students singing and dancing their way through the much dreaded return to school after summer break. They croon about Geometry and History being “such a pain” and Biology and Chemistry “destroy[ing] [their] brain[s]” all while executing a near perfect choreographed dance routine which belies the lack of energy they claim to have. (Heck, most days I’d be happy if my students just walked quickly from class to class, much less danced in unison!) But somehow, despite their best efforts, they all made it to school on time, including the guy who jumps in the classroom window just as the first bell rings.

I have to admit, I empathized with those students this morning. I just didn’t want to get out of bed. So, when my first alarm went off at six o’clock, I turned it off. When my second went off at six thirty, I turned it off. Before I realized it, the clock on my phone read 6:52, and I was running late! I had actually intended to get to campus by 7:00 this morning to rearrange the tables. . .HA! HA! Thankfully, I do not have a first period class, so I was able to get things ready even being a little tardy myself.

What is it about the first day back to school after an extended break that turns most reasonable, organized, motivated people into irritable, disheveled, lazy slugs? The truth of the matter is, I just didn’t want to come back this morning. If it had snowed last night I would have been perfectly happy even though I hate snow! But, I made it, and so did (most) of my students. And, when they arrived and started coming in the building, the motivation returned, the light came on, and BAM, I was a teacher again!

I suppose you either love this job or you hate it–there’s no real in between. There are some things that I don’t like–at all! There are some things we are asked to do which, I believe, are contrary to good teaching and good learning. But, most of the time, I love what I do; and I love my students all the time. They make me smile, laugh, frown, cry, stomp the floor in frustration, and dance the floor in success. They are the reason I do what I do. They are the reason I try my hardest to look at all of the things I don’t like about the job as brick walls. They are the reason I don’t sleep through all of my alarms.

Speaking of them: I taught them a little Latin this morning. Yes, there is still value in Classical Education, and yes, students should still be learning Latin. But, that’s neither here nor there for this post. We have a new class motto:

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Nothing comes from nothing.

I told them that this is our theme for the second semester. We (myself included) are going to work harder than we’ve ever

Ex nihilo nihil fit is attributed to the Roman philosopher Lucretius. Who wrote about the value of hard work.
Ex nihilo nihil fit is attributed to the Roman philosopher Lucretius. Who wrote about the value of hard work.

worked before. We’re going to work hard every single day from bell to bell. I want them to learn the value of hard work, and I want them to experience the sheer ecstasy that comes from accomplishing a goal that you’ve worked hard for. I want them to understand that the harder they work for something, the more that thing will mean to them when they achieve it. Maybe I’m expecting too much, I don’t know. But, I can’t help but worry that this generation of students is being cradled long past the time where cradling is effective, necessary, or appropriate.

Just like me not wanting to come back to work this morning, but coming anyway, they need to overcome their innate desire to not work hard. I knew that if I wanted to accomplish a good day’s worth of teaching, I had to buck up and get up. Because nothing comes from nothing.

What are you dreading in your life right now? What is there in front of you that you think is impossible to overcome? Regardless of what it is, my friends, remember that nothing comes from nothing. If you want something bad enough you must work for it. Get out of bed. Get moving. Get to work on your future!


2 thoughts on “Back to School. . .Again

Add yours

  1. $30,000 in debt, 20 years old, married and scared of my future is what made my life change. Only when I was struggling did I try to figure out my way out of my whole.

    I’ve learned that nobody will ever make a change if they are comfortable. My father always told me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and do at least one thing that is hard to do every day even if I don’t have to. He says that “one day life will get hard and if you do this you will be ready for it.” My father is one of the most successful people I know and I measure of by his love. A mentor of mine who is very wealthy also says something similar, “do what is hard when it is easy.”

    I believe the same can be applied to school. If I had realized how easy I had it, I would have done so much more..I would have cut out video games entirely and devoted my time to learning about myself, learning more languages, asking more questions, and working out a whole lot more. Maybe the reason I didn’t do these things was the fact that I got so comfortable and never felt like my life was in jeopardy. I was never stressed. Sure, I had tests and assignments with deadlines but I didn’t realize that I had roughly 500,000 hours of my life left to live and time is valuable.

    I think an interesting experiment you can do with your class is try to see how many hours you all have left to live. It may work and it may not work. I’ve never asked kids to do this so just be careful lol.
    Estimate the time of death in a perfect world.
    Estimate how much you sleep per day.
    Then just add up the hours of time left.

    Long comment, sorry.


    1. That’s a good word, Ryan! I absolutely agree with everything that you said. I think that your dad and your mentor have given you sound advice–advice that we should all listen to and take seriously. I, too, waited until I was miserable and on debt to make a change, although I had a lot more than you that I’ll be paying on for a longer time. But, the point is the same. I wish I’d worked harder when it was easier. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


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