Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Believe

I believe in Kindness.
I believe in Compassion.
I believe in Education.
I believe in Tolerance.
I believe in Understanding.
I believe in Family.
I believe in My Son.
I believe in My Marriage.

I believe that many people have the same beliefs that I do yet I am still disheartened and confused. There are people who say they believe in kindness and compassion but are:

Unable to show Kindness.
Unable to show any Compassion for others.
Unable to believe in Education and Life Long Learning.
Unable to show Tolerance for anyone who is different or struggling.
Unable to show they Understand or have any Empathy for you or your family.
Unable be with their Family because of a difference in beliefs.
Unable to cherish moments with their Children.
Unable to appreciate and support Their Loved Ones.

It has been an unusually hard week of Deep Thoughts. (And not the ones provided by John Handy). With the death of Tim, I have been struggling to find positive moments in my classes and in society. I was beginning to think that maybe I had officially become one of those "Burnt Out" teachers that needs to leave the profession.

Tim's funeral was hard and confusing. I left the service not feeling better about Tim and his life but, instead, feeling lost and confused about how we care for each other. I guess it is difficult to find people who have strength and integrity in the face of sickness but Tim lived with courage and kindness to all. The fact that there was a large collection of family and friends there to share in his life was proof. He touched many with his devotion to his faith, his determination to beat Cancer, and his dedication to raise funds and awareness for children with Cancer. Then why the negativity that surrounded his funeral...?

Our school held our Terry Fox Run only days after Tim had died. I was already in a difficult place with his loss but it was amplified by the lack of Empathy from our students for Terry Fox and his fight. Please keep in mind that it was a small section of students and that I do realize that I am painting a lot of students with one paint brush but, it was easier to see the negativity than the good at the moment. First, very few of my students turned up to class simply because they did not want to participate in the Terry Fox Run/Walk. That made me sad. Then, as students were coming into the classroom I would ask them for donations. We had tried to collect a "Toonie" from each student in the school for Terry Fox. I didn't think a "Toonie" was too much to ask but I was hoping to just collect some spare change from these older kids. It was difficult as a couple of students would walk in with entitlement, attitude and absolutely no possibility of giving any change to the cause. I was emotional. "So, we have a former student who spent the last 8 years fighting Cancer and raising money and you can't get the change out of your car to donate?" May not have been the best thing to say but I was upset and they knew it as my eyes started to fill with tears.

In my one English class, we are studying "Lord of the Flies". We were having a discussion about some of the themes and motifs from the novel. I was talking about how William Golding was turning his back on the idea that we are all inherently good, by writing a novel about how we are actually inherently evil when given the right circumstances.

One student put up her hand: "Mrs. Carriere, Do you think we are inherently good or evil?"

"Oh, such a touchy subject for me this week." Given with a sigh and a slight smile.

I went on to talk about how disheartened I was in today's youth with the Terry Fox Run, the bullying that is happening around the world and complete lack of respect for their own education. (I know, I said heavy thoughts all week) I went on to explain that I knew I was overgeneralizing their culture but that it was a difficult week when all I could see was the negativity in the faces of Adolescents today. I pointed out that the jar on my desk which is supposed to collecting "Pennies for Peace" has been only filled by me and my spare change and that I am constantly fighting with students to care about their education and to take pride in what they are doing in classes. I know, I Know, ...I was young once too. But, I am pretty sure that I cared about school and that I would feel for the suffering of others. Now, there is a very large population of students at our school that showcase their compassion every day. We have a very successful "Students for Change" group, a strong "Leadership" class and overall, a really positive school environment. As I said, it was just a hard week to focus on the "Good".

Even Pop Culture seemed to searching with "Glee's" latest episode on Religion. I cried through the episode feeling the hurt that Kurt would have gone through because of a lack of understanding and tolerance with his sexuality. This got me thinking about all of those kids that still struggle with bullying and that horrible period of "Storm and Stress" that adolescents go through in searching for who they are and what they will believe in the future. Can we stop Bullying? Will there always be those students who need to bully others to find out who they are?

I have learned that I have an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally, a son that I cherish every day, a group of family and friends that are compassionate and also love me unconditionally and, there are a lot of students who care about others and themselves. Through my art work (pictured above) and many conversations over the past week, I am back in a better place and I am not the "Burnt Out" teacher that needs to leave. (At least not yet...)

If you have been able to make it through this incredibly long post, I apologize; It seems that I have been able to put the week's worth of missed blog entries into one long post. I will leave you with one of my favorites quotes from this last week:

"Mrs. Carriere, I know that a lot of students hate you. But, I am really glad that I am in your class and that there are people like you around. " (ummmm, thanks?)


  1. It is truly hard to find the "good" at time in the world around us. Know that your compassion, thoughtfulness, caring, comfort and wisdom is taken by us a those learning and realization moments that we should all be having! :)

  2. Ah sweetie, wish I could give you a hug...but you are germy and all so...virtual hug coming at you!

  3. I think that was well said. It is true that sometimes we struggle to find the positive in our lives (even though it is all around us) It is also true that you can have 98 great kids and the 2 not so great kids ruin it for everyone. We have to continue to believe that good will always prevail. I am sorry that you went through that difficult week, but in no way are you a burnt out teacher because when kids would not donate, you would not care, when they did not show up for the run, you would not care. If anything you are still as passionate in making a difference in the lives of people as the first day you ever thought of teaching. We need more teachers that are as compassionate as you. Stay strong and people only don't like you because they don't know you:)

  4. Well said Kari. You have expressed what many of us are thinking and feeling. At times like these we do need to "stop and smell the roses" and feel all the love, compassion and positive all around us. Those of you who are teachers who care as you and Jen do, make a HUGE difference in the future members of society. You just can't see it yet. Hugs and love to you!

  5. It was a long post but it's like one of those long movies where you don't realize how long it is because it keeps your attention and is done so well :) Know that you ARE making a difference to your students. Even if you only reach ONE, you have made a difference - I KNOW you are reaching way more than one. As someone who has heard the "other students hate you but I am glad I am in your class" comments, I can tell you that the 'glad' ones are the ones you will remember forever - and some of the 'haters' will surprise you'll see. Hugs!

  6. My dear friend,
    I took, what only felt like a moment and read your most powerful words. Please NEVER stop believing. Kari, please never let the balance be forgotten. Without hurt we would not recognize joy. Without hate we could not know love. We need them both. I believe we do not have to partake in both but we have to acknowledge that they are there. Tim filled a room, 1400 strong. Yes there was heart ache but ..... Tim filled a room 1400 strong. Remembrance Day is around the corner and this generation, for the most part, don't care or don't know what was given to them by their forefathers. I don't know how to deal with that except to say that in my little corner of the world I will do my best to share the stories. Terry Fox, Tim Harriman and the Unknown Soldier will not be forgotten as long as there are folks who choose to make it their business to see that they are remembered. If it were not for the many who behave less that noble, we would never be able to identify our heroes.
    Take a listen...

    Pam Audette

  7. Much love to you, my friend.