Teaching Life Lessons

I read with great interest an op-ed in Star Tribune titled “High school English offers lessons in life” by an English teacher. It reminded me of my high school English teacher, my favorite teacher. I felt strongly about the topic and had to leave a comment:

Thanks for the great advice.  I think an important aspect of education and an important responsibility of a teacher, not just English teacher, but any teacher, is to teach life lessons, through the subject taught, and more importantly, through her own actions in her daily interaction with the students. I don’t really remember most of my teachers from the past, but the one I do remember very well is my high school English teacher. He was a great teacher, but more importantly, he was a great human being, the most humble, generous, and caring person I have ever met in my life. He pushed students to work hard, and he encouraged us and rewarded us for our hard work. His teaching AND his inspiration brought me to a place where I couldn’t be without him. He was such a blessing to me that I think of him often, with gratitude in my heart and tears in my eyes.  Thanks to all the teachers for teaching, coaching, mentoring, encouraging and inspiring the next generation.”

[A few years ago, I wrote a post in remembrance of my English teacher: Remembering my favorite teacher.]

The article also prompted me to write a thank-you note to my kids’ English teachers. I picked English teachers because my own favorite teacher was an English teacher, and I think English is the most important subject, the foundation of all other subjects to learn at school. I thanked them for teaching my kids English language, literature, writing, speaking, communication, critical thinking and other skills, and life lessons.

I should write to all their teachers, because they are all important in teaching lessons and changing lives.

The article also reminded me of one of my favorite books, “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things that Matter,” written by Hal Urban,  a high school teacher who loved teaching and kids. He wrote the book for his kids and his students and provided great life lessons in it.

I liked it so much, I actually read it twice which doesn’t happen often for me.

The book was self-published and was awarded Best Inspirational Book of the Year 2000 by Writer’s Digest Magazine. It became popular and went through several printings before it was picked by a major publisher.

The book contains the wisdom of the ages and essential life truths. The 20 lessons are great for character education. The book is not only good for kids, parents and teachers, it is good for everyone.

The 20 lessons are worth sharing here.

1. Success is more than making money.
2. Life is hard and not always fair.
3. Life is also fun and incredibly funny.
4. We live by choice, not by chance.
5. Attitude is a choice — the most important one you’ll every make.
6. Habits are the key to all success.
7. Being thankful is a habit — the best one you’ll ever have.
8. Good people build their lives on a foundation of respect.
9. Honesty is still the best policy.
10. Kind words cost little but accomplish much.
11. Real motivation comes from within.
12. Goals are dreams with deadlines.
13. There’s no substitute for hard work.
14. You have to give up something to get something.
15. Successful people don’t find time — they make time.
16. No one else can raise your self-esteem.
17. The body needs nutrition and exercise — so do the mind and the spirit.
18. It’s OK to fail – everyone else has.
19. Life is simpler when we know what’s essential.
20. Essential No. 1 is being a good person.