Listening for Life Lessons
Did you ever get an assignment from a teacher but you didn’t know what the point was?, This year I felt like I was just writing essay on top of essay and not getting anything out of it.
It all started when I walked into Mr. Hicks’ room (The 7th grade English teacher). I walked in on the ﬁrst day of school and there were vintage album covers lining the walls above the whiteboards, with bongo music playing in the background. Then I noticed that every corner of the room had a bookshelf, on every book shelf was a big jar of hand sanitizer, a box of tissues, and these old lamps that looked like the ones at my grandparents’ house. In the side room was his “supply of student-donated extra credit”: MORE paper towels, hand sanitizer, and tissues. I could immediately tell that it would be an interesting year.
After the luxury ﬁrst week of no homework, the work began. He handed everyone a sheet of paper. Before he gave me one I could tell everyone was looking at it like “what is this?” I looked at the paper and saw lyrics to a song, “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson. Then Mr. Hicks asked “Does anyone know who Smokey Robinson is?” There was dead silence, nobody raised a hand. Mr. Hicks looked disappointed. Then he played the song and we read along with the lyrics he gave us.
Then he said, “Write about it.” I thought to myself “What is the point of this?” Then I started to highlight and analyze the song. Once I thought about what it meant, I started to write right away. There was so much that I wanted to say about the song. Once I knew what Smokey Robinson’s lyrics meant and what he was trying to say, my question was answered.
The thing about Mr. Hicks that makes him one of the best teachers is that he made us look at things in a different way. He made us feel differently about things—he didn’t want us to see things as everyone else did, he wanted everyone to have their own opinion and to be different from everyone else. In the Girl Scout Amaze book it talks about ﬁrst impressions. You could listen to a song 100 times and might not know what it means until you really think about it.
I realized that there isn’t just an educational lesson taught in classes there are lifelong lessons.The point of the essay was for us to know that if we dig deeper and really think about something we might ﬁnd out what it means instead of, for instance, just listening to a song.
After “Tears of a Clown,” Mr. Hicks gave us many more songs. He even gave us topics like “Are violent video games the cause of criminal behavior?” and we would have to prepare, take notes, and dress in business-like attire to make us feel like we were actually in court.
These assignments were important to me because they taught me to look differently at things, and most importantly, to be patient. The reason why being patient has become important to me is because when I got those lyrics I immediately thought “what is this?” But if I had been patient I would have realized that I am not only writing an essay for English, but I am learning that if I dig a little deeper I will ﬁnd something so much greater than I expected.