This I Believe

Stephanie - Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Entered on December 9, 2007

I want to change the world.

I know – you’ve heard this line before. But give me a chance.

I want to change it because so many things enrage me about the current system. I frequently find myself frustrated and angry, mostly because I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for the groups of people who silently suffer under the current institution while I sit happily sipping my Starbucks.

Sometimes I feel so powerless. I tell myself there’s nothing I could’ve done to support that recently-divorced mother-of-three who makes a dime over the poverty line and is thus no longer entitled to government benefits. It’s ‘unfortunate’ that I was too late to teach that child who came to know failure so well that he dropped out of school.

I get tangled up in these views. So do you. They dilute our ability to think clearly. We’re taught to feel sorry and say ‘that’s too bad,’ shaking our head as we read the morning paper. We’re told it’s not our problem to deal with.

Holding complacent views like these is more than unacceptable, it is inhumane. Our society was founded on the principle of equality and yet what I witness everyday stands in stark contrast with this idea. The current system of power, greed, and exploitation is filled to the brim with unscrupulous individuals who will go to great lengths to defend it.

But I think our claims of ignorance go unwarranted. When we fail to act, we only perpetuate these problems further. As a teacher, I believe it is my mission to throw a wrench into the grinding turbines of the institution by practicing the following ideals:

I believe children should have access to the same quality education no matter if they go home to a mansion or a trailer park.

I believe teachers should endlessly motivate their students to work their hardest – and then some.

I believe students should be given numerous opportunities to spark their interest so that they can become life-long learners just like their teacher.

I believe teachers should be funny.

I believe students should be taught to appreciate other cultures as much as their own.

I believe teachers should have high expectations for every student, even if English isn’t their first language.

I believe it is the obligation of the teacher to include parents in matters of the classroom.

I believe teachers should learn to keep their failures in perspective.

I believe students should be taught to think critically about the issues of their time. It should never be assumed that kids aren’t ‘ready’ to discuss complex issues.

I believe teachers should teach their students life to be determined, persevere and remain accepting.

I believe teachers should never lose sight of the fact that what they do is valuable.

I believe students are teachers too.

I believe every person has the ability – and the responsibility – to stop the cycle of inequality that plagues our nation.

I believe I can change the world.