How to take an interest in your studies?

Students studying very hard in the library.

Have you ever been sitting in a classroom and suddenly realized that you had no idea what was being discussed?

Well, if your mind tends to wander at times, you are not alone.

Short attention spans are common to many students.

However, with a little effort and some attitude adjustment, you can learn to increase your powers of concentration.

Cultivating Interest in studies

Think of a trained athlete. If an athlete allows himself to be distracted for even a moment, it can cost him the game. 

To win, he must learn to concentrate—blocking out the sound of the roaring crowd, ignoring his pain and exhaustion, dismissing the very thought of failure. 

But just what motivates athletes to put forth such extraordinary effort?—The trophies and accolades given to victors.

Similarly, you have to be motivated to pay attention! 

The book Study Is Hard Work, by William H. Armstrong, says:

It is the responsibility of the student to be interested. No one can be interested for you, and no one can increase your interest unless you so will.” 

Knowledge is the key to understanding the world around you. The more you know, the more you can learn. 

You may not remember all the things you learn in school, but at the very least, school helps you to nurture and cultivate thinking ability.

Having mental discipline and an ability to concentrate will benefit you throughout your life.

Bored and Boring Teachers

However, some students complain that even their teachers seem to lack interest. One student lamented:

Teachers stand up in front of you, say something, give you your assignment, and then dismiss you. I think they’re slacking off. The teachers don’t act like it’s important, so we don’t see the need to pay attention.”

However, should you conclude, then, that it is a waste of time to pay attention? Not necessarily. Many teachers may simply be trapped in a vicious circle. 

Usually when no one pays attention to teachers, the teachers think that nobody wants to learn.

Then they don’t put much energy and enthusiasm into teaching. Believe it or not, you may be able to help break this pattern. How? 

Simply by paying attention. Having just one interested student may be all that it will take for a bored teacher to have a renewed interest in his job. 

Granted, some teachers simply do not have the ability to hold the interest of a class.

But before you allow yourself to lapse into daydreaming, ask yourself, ‘Does he know what he is talking about?’ 

If so, make up your mind to learn something from him. Listen carefully—concentrate! Get involved in classroom discussions. Ask pointed questions. 

Many students find it helpful to jot down diagrams, words, charts, definitions, and main ideas that the teacher puts on the board or otherwise emphasizes.

After attending a class can you recall something from each presentation? Or do you sometimes find that you cannot even remember who was teaching you?

Once again, it is a matter of seeing the importance of what you are learning. Why, your very life is involved! 

On the other hand, if you fail to pay attention, you may not make the needed improvements in your life; you will stunt your own mental growth. 

Practice! Practice! Practice!

The more you practice concentrating, the more adaptable your brains will become at the task. 

Discipline yourself to pay attention. After a while it will get better, and you will be able to pay attention for longer periods of time.

Finding joy and getting results in you studies are not always a matter of spending more time at it. There is another consideration, an even more important one.

It is how you use the time you do take.Those whose study is fruitful and enjoyable do not necessarily put more time in study than poor students. 

But they do make more effective use of the time they spend. They are skilled at study.

Some have difficulty with study because of problems such as a slow reading rate, poor grammar, or poor study habits. 

If these are remedied, the student could make far better use of the time spent and enjoy it much more.

There are remedies for such problems, but the remedies require effort. 

But then, anything new usually does. When you were a child, did you learn to walk confidently overnight?

It took months of repeated falls. Now you enjoy walking with little effort. 

If you are a housewife, your first attempts at cooking were likely frustrating and not very successful. But what a calamity for your family if you had given up trying to learn! 

If you play a musical instrument, your first tries and the constant practice were likely not very enjoyable. But by persisting you became proficient enough to enjoy it.

So, too, with study habits. You cannot expect to improve them without hard effort, particularly at first. 

But in time, good study procedures will become easier, even habitual. They will then make your study far more effective and enjoyable.

Stay focused

Blocking out distracting thoughts is also important. 

True, you may have a number of legitimate worries on your mind: that test coming up next week, a personality conflict that’s causing you stress, some upcoming expense you have to cover. 

Listening attentively can also help you stay focused. Try to anticipate what the speaker will bring out during the talk and then see how he does it. 

Ask yourself, ‘What are the main points under discussion? How can I use what is being taught?’ 

Anticipating what the teacher will say next may also help you to keep your mind on track. Try to follow his line of reasoning. Note the arguments he uses. 

Reflect on and summarize his main points. Take brief, meaningful notes. When a part calls for audience participation, participate! 

Doing so can help keep your mind engaged and your thoughts from wandering.

Admittedly, listening can be a challenge if a particular teacher lacks enthusiasm or has a lackluster delivery. 

However you can learn, even from a “dull” speaker, if you concentrate and listen. 

Who knows? He may even touch on some shade of meaning or application in a way that has never occurred to you before.

Granted, learning to tune in—and not zone out—will take effort and practice. But in time you will reap benefits. 

Learning to concentrate could mean better grades and, more important, mental growth!

Read more…

How far would you go to save face?

A girl covering her face out of shame.

Can you see a connection between committing suicide and “keeping up with the joneses”?

Or between going deeply in debt for a lavish ceremony, and refusing to admit defeat in an argument?

The connection is that each of these things is probably motivated by a desire to save face.

What is saving face?

In the Chinese language, the word “face” has the connotation of “honor.” So to save face means to “preserve one’s honor, or self-respect,” especially when threatened with “shame.”

According to Webster’s New International Dictionary,

to save one’s face” means “to conceal one’s defeat, discomfiture, or loss of prestige, by some pretense.”

It therefore amounts to a lie. Its basis is pride, a fear of having one’s ego hurt.

It refuses to acknowledge a fault or to face up to an issue. It denies the need for correction or discipline. Self is right, no matter what the circumstances.

‘Running with the crowd’ is the custom today, also, and many will go to any dishonest ends in order to maintain an outward appearance of respectability in the community.

They must “save face” and “keep face” with their neighbors at all costs

‘Face saving’ is rooted in emotion, not principle, and it often causes its victim to withdraw into himself or to shun association with the very friends who could really help in the hour of need

Is this wrong? Well, maintaining self-respect is not necessarily wrong. Having self-respect helps us to keep ourselves clean, reliable and honest.

Who wants to be thought of as dirty, unreliable and dishonest?

Saving face goes beyond that, however. It suggests that our reputation or honor is the most important thing.

To avoid shame, or to save face, a person would be ready to make any sacrifice.

At one time in Japan, some even committed hara-kiri, a very unpleasant form of suicide, when they were threatened with shame.

Would you go as far as that to save face?

What people do for a “face”

In the East, some people still commit suicide when they feel their “face” is threatened, although usually no longer doing so by means of hara-kiri.

Others make other sacrifices, too.

On a Buddhist feast day, in some areas, it is common for families to spend their whole week’s food allowance on one ceremonial meal so as not to lose face before their neighbors.

In other places, a man may take a visitor out to the most expensive restaurant in town to entertain him.

The man probably cannot afford this, and likely the visitor would rather eat in the home. But the host feels that he has to do this in order to save face.

In one land, it is the custom that when a man’s daughter gets married, he provides a furnished house for the newlyweds.

The father gains “face” if he furnishes it very well. Hence, some individuals go deeply in debt to do this. Usually, the bridegroom will give a dowry for his new wife.

To gain “face,” the young man may also go in debt to give a large dowry.

However, the bride’s father, who is possibly already in debt after having provided the furnished house, will likely give the dowry back.

He would not want to lose face by accepting the money.

Would you go that far to save face?

Saving face a worldwide tendency

The tendency to want to save face is seen not only in the Orient; it is world wide. Take, for example, what is called “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Consider a person who owns an automobile that is perfectly suited to his needs.

One day his neighbor buys a new, expensive model. The person who was quite satisfied with his vehicle before, now becomes dissatisfied. Why?

The person is ashamed of it. His neighbor’s new one makes his car look old. So he buys a new automobile that he neither needs nor can afford.

His motivation, being ashamed in front of his neighbors, is quite similar to that which drove certain Orientals to commit hara-kiri (suicide).

Then again, have you ever felt angry when someone offered you counsel or correction? Did you think to yourself:

That’s not fair! Who is he to be criticizing me anyway? He’s not so great himself!”

You were justifying yourself. Why? Because your pride or honor has been touched.

Sometimes a person may make a big sacrifice in an effort to save face.

Perhaps one makes a mistake. He cannot bring himself to admit this to others and have the matter cleared up.

When the wrongdoing comes to light anyway and other people discuss it with him, he denies the whole thing.

Because of shame or stubbornness, he is even willing to even endangering his relationship with others. Would you go that far to save face?

Why does one reason this way? Could it be that his sense of injured dignity is more important to him than the restoration of good relations?

In other words, does his “face,” or honor, demand that others be made to suffer?

Have you ever met someone who refuses to admit that he is wrong, even when the facts are crystal clear to everyone else?

Or do you know an individual who dislikes taking suggestions, who acts hurt and offended when he makes a suggestion that is not accepted by others, or who is stubborn and immovable in his opinions?

Are you acquainted with someone who is overly proud of his prestigious job or his higher education, or, contrariwise, is ashamed because he does not have such an education?

All these characteristics can be manifestations of a concern for “face,” or personal honor.

So be alert to the dangers of saving face. We need to cultivate qualities that will help us to overcome the desire to save face.

What are they? Well, honesty is one.

If we value honesty, we will not want to put on a false front. This may be difficult.

That is why we may also need humility and courage to help us to stay honest, both with ourselves and with others.

Additionally, humility will overcome the false pride that makes us want to save face in the first place. Yes, courage, honesty and humility will help us to avoid the trap of saving face.

Read more…

How do you view authority?

Policemen on patrol in a public place.
Is authority just something to tolerate, yet to flout if given the opportunity? ‘Of course not!’ you might respond."

But careful self-scrutiny is in order, since one’s thinking and actions may have been influenced in ways one does not realize.

To most of today’s generation, “authority” is a word with a distasteful ring; they feel that authority unduly restricts freedom of action that even the most conservative persons would like to have.

So we find this generation undermining authority in every conceivable way. It may be in the form of extremely vocal and even violent dissent.

Or, it may be the silent, but nonetheless destructive, defiance of authority in areas that may go unobserved, among “just plain people” who make up the majority of today’s society.

Why a lack of respect for authority?

Just what is authority that it should provoke such increasingly hostile feelings toward it as are to be found on every side today? 

One dictionary says that it is “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.” 

Those in authority, then, influence or command a person’s actions in a course on which one may or may not wish to go. 

As a result, the exercise of authority has come to be considered by many as contrary to freedom. 

In the sense of removal of authority, freedom has been cast by some as the ultimate goal toward which  people are striving.

What is causing this powerful movement to throw off the bonds of all authority?

There are a number of additional factors that may affect one’s view of authority.

For instance, there is the poor example set by adults who are in authority or supposed to be upholding it.

Civil servants such as the police, teachers and mailmen, parents and even the clergy ostensibly advocate law and order but often they do not want to end their own illegal actions.

This has led many persons to conclude that the law is to be obeyed only if it does not result in personal inconvenience or interfere with selfish interests.

So we find them evading taxes or customs duties in devious ways, breaking traffic laws when they think they can get away with it, stealing from their employers by “padding” expense accounts or by walking away with company property.

They participate in illegal strikes accompanied by name-calling and emotional demonstrating and often involving violence.

Adults also often use disparaging terms for law officers and elected officials and even these officials publicly denounce their political opponents in an uncomplimentary fashion, thus setting a poor example for youth.

If adults behave this way, is it not to be expected that youthful observers would have little regard for their demands to show respect.

Another factor that influences some in their view of authority is the fact that those in authority often abuse the power they have.

Public scandal makes us aware of the common practice of bribe taking by police and politicians.

Political leaders frequently mislead the public with statements that are later shown to be untrue, and a “credibility gap” results.

Getting a favorable judgment in a court of law is too often only for those who can afford a “good” lawyer, and through the efforts of these unscrupulous lawyers they may even “buy” exemption from punishment for crimes they do commit.

Seeing apathy or failure to act on the part of authorities contributes to a feeling of scorn for their double standards of meting out justice.

It is a matter of general knowledge that in many countries the underworld of crime is almost immune from criminal prosecution, even being called “untouchable” by the public.

This apathy encourages other persons to a lawless course.

In review, we can see that a number of things may affect one’s view of authority.

With such an unpleasant picture of the exercise of authority through the years, many persons use such things to rationalize the course they take in opposition to authority when they break laws or engage in various forms of dissent.

But should these things unbalance our view of authority and the purpose it serves? 

Why humans need authority?

We are governed by certain physical laws that restrict our actions or make us do things. In some cases this is quite forcible.

For example, your body ‘influences’ or ‘commands’ you with undeniable authority to take in food. If you want to stay alive, you must eat.

Your body must also rid itself of the wastes produced through its metabolism. It gives one an authoritative command, as it were, to eliminate.

Consider your need for sleep, air and water. Your body commands you, and eventually will force you, to obtain these things even though you may desire otherwise.

Do you feel that your freedom has been taken away from you because of these things?

Are you going to rebel and become violent with your body simply because it exercises a form of authority over you?

This would be absurd, would it not? Those who try to violate these physical laws only harm themselves.

Yet the proper adherence to them is beneficial and can actually bring pleasure. Who does not enjoy a good night’s sleep? . . . a delicious meal? . . . a cold glass of water on a hot day?

The same is true of laws outside our bodies and which we must obey. The existence of stairways and elevators is a constant reminder of the power that gravity exerts over us.

Would you deny the authority of gravity by stepping out of a tenth-floor window instead of using the stairs?

Even though these laws are inflexible and continual in their effect, who can deny that they are really quite beneficial?

Gravity holds to the earth its atmosphere, oceans and other things so necessary to life.

If we recognize the laws of nature and work in harmony with them, we may find that they can be used for even greater benefit and pleasure.

For example, humans have recognized the authority of the law of gravity, studied it along with other applicable laws, and they have eventually developed the airplane.

This is not a rebellion against the authority of gravity any more than the existence of birds or flying insects would be considered such.

They are merely working in harmony with laws of nature, with benefit to those who recognize them.

Another area in which authority provides real benefit to us is found in the uniformity of the universe.

The human body illustrates this. Its organs, with rare exceptions, are always found in the same location, and all of the external body members are arranged symmetrically.

Imagine the chaos in the practice of medicine, and especially surgery, if a person’s appendix could not be counted upon to be in the same place as that of others!

Applying the principle of uniformity to life today, we find benefits and a clear need of some authority to determine standards.

There are weights, measures and monetary exchange to be decided, as well as the side of the road on which to drive.

It is obvious what would happen if each one were to do as he wished in these matters.

The exercise of authority, then, eliminates confusion and provides a measure of safety by setting up certain standards.

From our brief review of some laws of nature, we can see that the exercise of authority through them works to keep us alive and makes for orderly existence.

It does not inhibit freedom in the true sense when we recognize its direction and work in harmony with it. Authority evidently actually contributes to our joy in living.

The arrangement of authority to guide humans is even more important because of the ability of humans to choose their own direction.

This freedom brings them a choice among alternatives, some of which may not be in the best interests of the one choosing or of others.

Therefore, a form of guidance would be necessary so that humans might live peacefully and equitably.

To illustrate, a man might wish to build his home in a certain beautiful spot, but would his choice infringe on the freedom of others?

The spot may have already been selected by someone else, or perhaps it would be a fine location to set aside as a community park for the benefit of everyone in the locality.

Clearly there must be a way of deciding what is best for all, since humans must exist alongside other humans.

Therefore it is clear there has to be some kind of authority to maintain a measure of order in society, without which chaos from anarchy would reign.

Read more…

How to cope with a relationship break up?

A lady looking at a picture of her ex boyfriend.

Renee had this to say about her failed relationship:

He made me feel so very special. I had feelings I’d never felt before. But then he said that he didn't think it would work. I thought my life had ended. I cried all day and all night. I didn't eat, I didn't sleep, I lost 30 pounds [15 kg] in a couple of months, and I even developed bronchitis. Life had no meaning for me.”

If you have been hurt by a failed romantic relationship, this lament may sound familiar.

You know well what it means to feel deeply for someone, only to have your hopes dashed to pieces.

The feeling of rejection is intense, humiliating. 

As you struggle to get over the pain, you may wonder, ‘Why can’t I just let go—forget the person and get on with my life?’ It is rarely that simple.

Why Is It So Hard?

The bond of romantic affection can be strong. It has even been compared to the parent-child bond.

While it would doubtless take a long time for romantic love to grow that strong, still, the emotions may be deeply felt from the outset.

You can’t just turn them on and off as you might flick a light switch. That makes the loss of a boyfriend or a girlfriend especially hard to take.

A tendency to fantasize may play a role as well.

One study by researchers explains:

Many people are more vulnerable to loss because when they enter a romantic relationship, they tend to fantasize about the future with their partner. This fantasy may include dreams of getting married, having children, and being together for the rest of their lives.”

Such dreams can be hard to abandon, even when they have little basis in reality.

You Are Still Loved

The loss of a romantic partner can lead to feelings of personal failure and inadequacy.

Jeanette recalls: 

You feel depressed, as if nobody’s there for you. You don’t care anymore. You feel rejected.”

Like her, many feel depressed, guilty, worthless, unable to concentrate. Some have even committed suicide.

So this can be a dangerous time for you. A measure of self-love is needed and proper. 

The fact that one person failed to return your romantic love does not mean that you are unlovable, does it?

You can’t really assume that no one else will ever find you desirable or attractive, can you? Do you not have family members and friends who love you?

You are not unlovable, and you are certainly not worthless.

When a Breakup Is Really a Blessing

You may feel that this breakup is one of the worst things that has ever happened to you, but it may be just the opposite.

Hard as it may be to believe, it is quite likely that the end of your romance is a blessing. How so?

Most infatuated romantic relationships hold no real promise of success. People are susceptible to fleeting desires and mistaken loves.

Every year thousands of people marry, only to find out too late that doing so was a mistake.

One newspaper executive stated after her divorce: 

It was a real mistake to marry him. I didn't really understand we had very different values and backgrounds.”

Rushed marriages have a horrendously high failure rate.

So as bad as you may feel right now, be assured of one thing—you would feel a lot worse trapped in an unhappy marriage.

Ask yourself if you really were ready for a lifelong marriage, with all its responsibilities, including child rearing.

And was the one you loved really ready? Remember, breakup of a courtship is infinitely less painful than breakup of a marriage.

So you may be able to view the breakup as a learning experience. Will this experience make you more shrewd, so as to avoid trouble in the future?

Coping With Breakup Feelings

However, even if the breakup was the best thing for you, that still does not make it painless. How can you handle the feelings that just don’t seem to go away?

For one thing, it will not help to pretend that you don’t feel anything. Feelings aren’t things that you can run from or hide from. Eventually, they’ll find you.

It is quite natural for you to feel provoked, deeply upset over this. But don’t bottle it up, going to bed distraught night after night.

Express yourself to a trusted friend or confidant. Your parents or friends can be very helpful in these situations. You may find that they went through similar painful experience.

Another aid in coping with your feelings is keeping busy. You may tend to withdraw, isolate yourself, daydream, and lose interest in life.

Jeanette recalls: 

You don’t feel like doing anything. You just sleep a lot. Get right back into group association with those who will encourage you in the right course.

Remember, too, that for a while you will experience good days and bad days. On bad days you may feel that you will never get over this.

But the truth is, you will get better. Healing a wound—any wound—takes time. Do not delay the process by wallowing in romantic or sentimental music and daydreaming about your lost love.

One of your great blessings is time. There is so much time ahead of you to learn and gain experience.

So use this precious asset wisely; develop qualities that will help you to become a stable and secure. 

That way you will be able to make wise decisions about courtship and marriage in the future.

Read more…

Issues that affects your child's education negatively and how can you address them.

Students in a classroom during examinations.

You likely pay a substantial tax  and money to provide education for your children.

In some areas there are new school buildings, an impressive array of modern equipment in classrooms and plenty of courses on contemporary subjects.

But does all of this mean that children going to school now are better educated than those in the past? Not necessarily.

The fact is that there are many students in their last year of high school who can read no better than those in fifth grade.

It is equally true that some students cannot comprehend much of what they read. 

A surprising number do not have a readable handwriting. As a result, the likelihood of their becoming productive members of society is greatly limited.

Why the poor results? What is happening to child education?

What Is Happening in schools?

One reason why taxpaying parents and others find it hard to grasp what is going on is that they assume that schools are just as they were when the parents attended years ago."

But conditions have changed drastically. The average parent would be shocked at what is daily behavior nowadays.

No, we are not referring to somewhat harmless schoolboy pranks. 

We are talking about drug dealing and drug abuse, the drinking of alcoholic beverages, promiscuous behavior—even sexual activity—on school grounds. 

We are talking about fights, knifings—including attacks on teachers and principals—right in school buildings.

We are talking about shameless, senseless destruction of costly school property.

Nor is that all. In some classrooms the days are filled with battles between teachers and disrespectful youths. 

Conscientious teachers try to keep classes going for the benefit of those who want to learn, but rebellious students interrupt, challenge authority and create upheaval. 

There is a tendency for others to be led along to imitate the lawless ones, so that an entire class can in time turn on the teacher. 

By the end of the day teachers are frustrated, ill, striving to maintain sanity and self-respect. Thus, opportunity, talent and money—your money—are wasted.

If you add to the above a flabby credit system and a grading of exams at such a level that just about anyone can pass, what you get is an atmosphere where there is little incentive to learn or apply oneself. 

Worse yet, students trying to do well are bullied, threatened, beaten and ridiculed. The pressures are tremendous to conform to unruliness and promiscuity.

Think of the plight of one young person in his first year of high school whose student identification card was stolen by other students who wrote the word “GAY” in heavy ink across the front of his picture. 

Students also telephoned the parents of this particular youth, and, pretending they thought they were talking to the boy, explained they had his order of marijuana ready—this to undermine parental trust and create problems for the boy at home. 

At times they also destroyed his schoolwork, his books and electronics projects and even physically attacked him in school hallways. How many will stand up under that for long?

‘You’re describing some extreme situations at ghetto schools,’ you may say, ‘but that’s not the case where my children attend.’ Are you sure? 

‘Well, they've never said anything like that,’ you may reply. Have you asked? 

Of course, we hope your children’s situation is not that bad, but they may be too embarrassed to mention what is going on, or they may have been intimidated by others. 

‘But where are the teachers when these things happen?’ you may ask.

What About the Teachers?

That is an understandable question for parents and other concerned adults to ask. Happily, most teachers are still dedicated, responsible people. 

If they have these problems, let these teachers know that you do not approve of rebelliousness and interference with their sincere efforts to serve well. 

They may thus be encouraged to continue to resist the emotional strain and physical attacks.

Teachers need your encouragement. Consider their frustration when they see that troublemakers are let go with verbal reprimands or a few days’ suspension from classes. 

One teacher who was interviewed said: 

On one occasion I went into the boys’ washroom at school and caught three boys dividing up marijuana into plastic bags. I took them to the office and gave the evidence to the vice-principal. . . . Next day I went to the vice-principal and asked what was done to these students. He said they were sent home for three days.”

Does this affect the attitude of students as to what they think they can get away with? 

It definitely does! As one juvenile offender said to a psychologist about a felony charge:

 Big deal. All they’re going to do is take me to court and lecture me for a few minutes.” 

Thus some youths hold the whole system of authority and justice in contempt. Their attitudes, in turn, increase the peer pressure. 

Expelled students use their time off from classes to hang around the school grounds and entice others to wrongdoing. They become heroes!

What has been mentioned so far is enough to indicate why children can go to school and still not learn well, whether they are directly involved in the misbehavior or not. 

For so many, school is just a meeting place for drink, drugs and sex. But there are other situations that can stand in the way of your children’s getting a better education.

Sad to say, some teachers are known by their students to be drug users and persons who lead a promiscuous life. That does little to inspire young students in the right direction. 

Consider the influence on a 16-year-old pupil when a teacher in her 20’s sits on his desk and asks: “How come you haven’t been by to see me like the other boys in this class?” 

More frequent, perhaps, is the “hassle” some female students report they suffer from male teachers who make advances as they assure passing grades to the girls.

Then there are those few teachers who seem to feel that they are on some sort of “special mission” to acquaint the young with “other life-styles.” 

What Can Parents address these issues?

Now that you know to some extent what things are like at school for your children and their teachers, what will you do? What can you do? 

Remember, children are born to parents and within families. They are not products of the state or of any institutions of government. 

Whatever governments may supply in the way of education should always be viewed as supplementary and never as an excuse for parents to abandon their own responsibilities. The children are yours. 

Hence, you have a voice (and should have an interest) in what they are taught and how they are taught. This being so, how do you proceed?

First, sit down with your children and have an open discussion about what is going on in their school. 

What are their needs and problems?

Parents who are concerned with good principles will want to find out what their offspring are being taught or what they are expected to read that may be at variance with such principles. 

Other parents will be concerned, understandably, with the preservation of certain cultural and ethnic concepts that are dear to them.

If you have had good communication with your children all along, the above recommendation will not be a serious problem. 

If, however, this has been somewhat neglected in the past, it will take time and patience to bridge the gap and improve communication. 

Remember, you have strong family ties that give you the advantage. Your children love you and will be warmed by your genuine interest. 

Eventually they will be more communicative. So you may have some fence-mending to do, but it is well worth the time and effort.

However, one such session will not suffice. It must be a steady, continuing interest that you show in them. 

Regularly, perhaps at the family’s evening meal or at some other appropriate occasion, inquire as to how things went at school that day. 

What did they learn? When they reply, listen carefully. Do not interrupt needlessly. Should you detect anything objectionable in what they were taught, don’t panic. 

Don’t overreact or bawl them out. That will silence them. Ask them what they think about what they were told. 

Find out why they accepted it or rejected it. You may be pleasantly surprised at how well they handled the matter. If so, commend!

On the other hand, if you see that what you wish for your children has been in any way adversely affected, it is your right and duty to discuss this with them. 

It is easier to root out any wrong ideas at this early stage before resulting misconduct brings grief to the family. 

Next, to see for yourself what things are like at school, make a visit there. Spend a few hours or a day, if you can. 

Teachers won’t mind. In fact, most will welcome it. If there is a meeting soon where parents and teachers can talk, attend it. 

In both instances really talk with the teachers to see what things are like with your children. Listen when the teacher talks to you. 

Don’t form opinions too soon. Communicate intelligently as to what you want for your children. If you have religious, cultural or ethnic concerns, make them known. 

Most teachers are quite tolerant these days, but they can’t guess about these matters. 

For example, they might conclude that your child’s reluctance to engage in some school program or exercise is merely a childish whim.

Each year a visit to the new teachers of your children affords the opportunity to assure these teachers as to your expectations about your children’s education.

So, while you are not going to visit with the idea of getting involved in a confrontation, or with ideas of altering the entire system of education, there is much you can do to assure that your children are benefited by going to school. 

Just paying your taxes is not enough. Neither can any teacher substitute for caring parents.

Most of what your children need for a better education is available. But what is needed most in the program is "you."

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Do you admit your mistakes?

A very proud girl
The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.” At least, so said writer J. R. Lowell. Be that as it may, it is a very common human failing to stick to an opinion unreasonably or to refuse to admit when we are wrong."

Have you never made a mistake? Have you always been correct with every decision you have made, every opinion given and every action taken?

It is most unlikely that you would say "yes".

Imperfect humans are certain to make mistakes, some more than others. The best they can do is to exercise great care so as to reduce the number they make.

You may readily admit that you are not infallible, but when it comes to acknowledging an error do you strive to make people think you are?

When confronted with a mistake do you stoutly argue that it is not an error, when in your heart you know that it is?

Do you strive to twist the facts in order to justify what you have done rather than to admit humbly that you were wrong? 

Why people don't admit their mistakes? 

Some people are just stubborn in this respect that they never change their story. They will never admit an error.

Sometimes the problem may not be merely stubbornness. It may be related to another characteristic—pride. How could this be?

Well, consider. Have you ever known a supervisor at work who makes a mistake and, when it is exposed, refuses to admit it or tries to blame someone else?

Or, perhaps, you have heard a person in authority unintentionally say something inaccurate and then be unwilling to acknowledge it.

This could be due to pride, a feeling that in his position he should not be caught in a mistake. 

Parents and schoolteachers sometimes act this way, fearing that they will lose respect and influence if they admit an error, thus weakening their authority.

Related to pride is the idea of “saving face.” In the Orient some would rather die literally than “lose face.”

But most of us, whether in the East or the West, want to defend our “face,” our prestige or the image we want to present. This is motivated to a great extent by pride.

Some people may, for another reason, refuse to admit when they are wrong. Perhaps they are afraid or embarrassed. 

When they have done something that they are ashamed of, and have been called to account for it, sheer shame may cause them to deny the facts or to try to justify their action in an effort to get their consciences to excuse them.

Why admit your mistakes?

The poet Alexander Pope wrote:

Some positive persisting fops we know, who, if once wrong, will needs be always so; But you with pleasure own your errors past, and make each day a critique on the last.”

This is good advice. It is better to acknowledge ownership of your errors so you can dispose of them than to let pride make you stubbornly hold on to them.

Such stubbornness is not showing respect for the truth.

You probably have known someone—maybe a fellow student, a neighbor, or even a teacher—who never wanted to admit to making a mistake or being wrong.

How do you feel personally about someone like that?

Would your opinion of him go up or down if one day he came right out and said, “I’m sorry; I see I was wrong”?

Yes, no one can maintain the respect of others if he always insists that he is right, even when confronted with an obvious mistake.

This continual self-justification becomes repugnant to them.

It is only proper to apologize for an error that inconveniences someone. It is adding insult to injury to deny one’s error.

There are times when a person may honestly not recall giving misinformation to a person.

Nevertheless, he can make acknowledgment that it is possible that he made a mistake and, if he did, he did not do it intentionally.

An apology helps to preserve good relations with the other people.

Often, restoring peaceful relations simply requires admitting that we handled matters wrongly and asking forgiveness.

The longer we wait to do this, the more difficult it becomes.

An apology is usually appreciated, especially if made quickly. In fact, the sooner we admit a mistake the better.

To illustrate:

On October 31, 1992, Pope John Paul II admitted that the Inquisition had acted “mistakenly” 360 years ago in punishing Galileo for asserting that the earth is not the center of the universe."

The postponing an apology for such a long time tends to diminish its value.

No Cause for Despair

Diplomat Edward John Phelps observed: “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” 
Though all of us make mistakes, these need not be a cause for despair. Would a child learn to walk without ever stumbling? 

No, for a child learns from mistakes and keeps on trying until balance is achieved.

To lead balanced lives, we also need to learn from our mistakes and those of others

Listening to experiences of others whose circumstances may mirror our own, can helped us avoid making the same mistakes that they made.

Often a sense of humor will be of help, especially if the wrong or mistake is not too serious or weighty.

One good housewife was carrying a number of dinner plates when she stumbled and dropped the whole stack, smashing all of them.

At that, she burst out laughing, for it seemed to her that such a thing simply could not happen to her. And yet it did!

Yes, often a sense of humor will keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, which frequently is at the bottom of our not wanting to admit that we have made a mistake.


As long as humans will be imperfect, mistakes will be part of the lives of all. It is important to recognize this fact and not pretend that we do not make them.

Since none of us are perfect and everyone knows it, we should all be big enough to acknowledge our errors. 

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