When I took my daughter to soccer practice this week, I got into a deep discussion with a number of other parents about what could be boiled down to nature v. nurture. It went a little something like this:
Parent 1: You know, after talking with my daughter, I’m starting to feel like some people are just born evil.
Parent 2 (Me): That’s interesting. What do you mean?
Parent 1: Well, my daughter has been telling me that some kids in her class are just really mean, and mean to everyone… [she went on to give examples of what these students did, which I won’t put into writing here].
Parent 3: Yeah, it’s crazy. How did these kids get to be so bad?
Parent 2: Well, I’m not sure that people are just born evil. There is a lot of influence that people encounter as they grow up.
Parent 1: Maybe, though I could never let my daughter end up that way.
And so on. . .
It was an interesting conversation, partly because I think my background as an educator has made me see things a little bit differently than I would just as a parent. See, I don’t see it as a simple “good” or “evil” designation. I think that while we are born with certain dispositions and we may gravitate slightly towards the “light” or “dark” side (I can’t resist a Star Wars reference), it is our relationships that help determine where we “end up.”
That’s why it is so important that in all our relationships, particularly with young learners, we stay focused on the fact that we do make a difference in the lives of these children, each and every day. We are modeling who we are, and therefore who they can become, simply by being in close proximity to them.
We must make sure that we are giving one hundred percent in all that we do, and we must model ourselves as the type of people we believe our learners need to be. We should realize that whether someone becomes “good” or “evil” is just as much on us, as it is on the person him/herself.