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Sixth-grade advice offers lessons for us all

December 21, 2018
By Billy Handmaker

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.  
--Neil Gaiman

Winter Break has always felt a little strange to me.  Don’t get me wrong-I love the holidays as much as the next person, and a vacation is always a good thing.  Nevertheless, the notion that we leave during one calendar year and we return during another has seemed a little surreal.  It feels somewhat bizarre to say, “See you next year!’ in the middle of an academic year, but that’s the way it is, so let’s enjoy it.

As we know, one of the traditions at this time of year is to make our New Year’s resolution.  Like the author Neil Gaiman above, there are many, many people giving advice on what we should do, how we should live in the upcoming year, and what self-improvement plan we will embark upon in the next twelve months. In early January, the gym is more crowded, a little less sugar is consumed, and we stack those books on our nightstand that we meant to read in the past twelve months. We commence the year with the best of intentions, and sometimes, we change our habits for the better-at least for a while.

I thought about our desire to improve while reading the advice dispensed by Ms. Sarah Rardon’s 6th grade advisory.  Her students wrote guidelines for life in an ABC format, so every letter had an associated rule to live by. This kind of lesson fits in perfectly with Keystone’s commitment to teaching ethical growth as a core value, and students benefited by creating their own list and seeing what others developed. However, as you may imagine, there was also plenty of humor.  For example, some students stated for the letter “O” that “operas are loud and high pitched,” for V” that “vacation is always great,” and for “Y” one should “yawn, but don’t get in trouble.”

Beyond the humor, though, there was some excellent advice for us to consider in our preparing for the new year.  Here’s a list of some of their tips:

Become someone better

Do not get discouraged by little things

Every day is a new opportunity

Every day, wake up with a smile on your face

Fight for your rights

Find friends that make you feel confident

Forget the bad things other people say

Going to lunch study hall is always a good idea

Good times don’t last so cherish them

Goofy days can make you happy

Help people to fill their bucket

Help your mom

Hope is the best thing to have in times of stress

Joke around and have a good time

Just don’t quit

Keep your soul in balance

Knowledge is a powerful thing

Listen to your Mom and Dad

Laugh a lot, you will live longer

Mistakes help you learn

Money can’t buy happiness

Music gives life to your soul-never give it up

No one can tell you that you aren’t good enough

Optimism is good

Race or gender should not be joked about

Ranting is annoying

Reading is nice

Some people want to drag you down; don’t let them succeed

Very kind people should not be taken for granted

Youth must be cherished

Bear in mind that the advice above, which is good for a lifetime, came from 6th graders!  If there ever was a case of “out of the mouth of babes,” comes great wisdom, here it is. There are riches here for us adults to consider, and if we heed the advice of these young women and men, we will be well situated.  And what could be better for us parents to hear than one of our youth advising their peers to “Listen to your Mom and Dad” or “Help Your Mom!”

Lest you think that these wise young men and women were focused on lofty ideals only, please bear in mind that they also provided sage council on culinary matters.  While the veracity of some of their advice may be open to question, their joy in food is beyond a doubt. Here are some of their points to remember:

Beans are good for protein

Chocolate chip cookies are good for you

Eat cookies

Ice cream helps your life

Keep pizza rolls in your pocket

Never eat soggy waffles

Peanut butter is delicious

Pickles taste good

As we prepare to head out for the holidays and the winter break, I want to wish you time with friends and family, and holidays that are both joyful and meaningful.  Consider the tips from our students when making your resolutions for next year, and if you hesitate when taking another sweet morsel from the sweets table, just remember what our bright and motivated Cobras said, “chocolate chip cookies are good for you.”  Happy Holidays! I look forward to seeing you in 2019!
 




 

Carol Covert says:
December 21, 2018 09:57 AM CST

I love, love, love this! 

Roger Parsons says:
December 21, 2018 02:25 PM CST

~20+ years ago, one of the mantras was "Fail Forward"

over 100 years ago, Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother, Theo:

"I am doing the things I cannot do, in order to learn to do them."

 

thank you Mr. Handmaker for your blog.

 

regards, and Happy Holidaze,

Roger Parsons