Exhortations have always been a part of my life. I guess being born in 1944 near the end of World War II, it was normal for me to take seriously exhortations to be prepared for a possible atomic attack on our city of St. Louis. I studied the maps and information guides which exhorted us to get at least thirty miles outside of the city center to avoid radiation effects.
When I babysat for our neighbors as a young teenager, I was aware of life and death even more so as the young police officer father often told me of cases he was trying to solve. His wife, a telephone operator who had to ride to and from work on a city bus late at night, even shared the news that her friend and fellow worker was stabbed and raped one evening as she returned home from work. Need I say that exhortation was not necessary to convince me to be very cautious on the city streets in the dark of night.
My father’s many accidents as a long-distance truck driver over a span of sixty plus years served as exhortations to be very cautious when driving a vehicle. His admonishments about proper passing of trucks and other vital information about traveling on busy highways caused me to be super cautious. I must admit that his warnings have saved my life on more than one occasion.
As I think of exhortation, I see that I am a motivator who is constantly trying to exhort my students to learn lessons well so that their life choices may be successful. I don’t just teach lessons…I seek to convince my students of the necessity of reaching benchmarks successfully, and then setting new goals for achievement. My job of teaching does not end just because the end of the book has been reached. I must tie learning to life choices and life lessons to enable my students to be prepared for the world of tomorrow…a world which none of us have ever seen!
I’m afraid that many educators have given up on exhortation, and they have settled into a daily routine of read, write, and regurgitate. They have allowed standards of learning to be replaced by fads, textbooks to be dumbed down and made pretty, and requirements for graduation to become a farce. Is it any wonder that our nation is reeling in an abyss of educational scandals?
The vast numbers of students who are enrolling for online courses (so they can study what they wish and when they wish) is bothersome to me. I believe the face-to-face encounter of people is desirable for learning at a higher level. Mentors have been able to motivate people to reach for the stars as they actively engage in meaningful challenges. It is most often the exhortations of someone dear to us that cause us to reach for the seemingly impossible and step out to great achievements.
So, I will say it again…I will do whatever it takes to exhort my students to take the road less traveled…and find some of life’s greatest blessings! Kay