As I was bemoaning my fate to yet another friend, it became clear that she had drifted away when she pondered out loud "What would you teach your students in Life 101?"... An interesting question no?
There are so many things I try to teach my students on a daily basis. Beyond the course material listed on the syllabus, I try to guide them in the best way I know how. I try to support them, I try to answer their questions, get them to see that there are other view points out there, try to pull them out of their sheltered selves.
As I think about just what I try to teach my students, I realize that there are a lot of School 101's that really should be condsidered Life 101's:
Know history. If you know what went on in the past, and why people did what they did, you will have a better understanding of the world around you and why it is shaped the way it is. Ultimately, you will have a better understanding of not just the world around you but the world at large.
Really listen. Listen to other's opinions. You don't have to agree with a single thing they have to say, but hearing a different point of view, and considering it as an option will open your mind in ways that are unexplainable. You will learn something, not just about someone else, but also yourself.
Ask why. Don't just accept information given to you. Ask why. Why did that happen, why did they do that, why does that look the way it does, why do we think that's the way things need to be? Beyond gaining a deeper understanding of the world you just might find that some wrongs can be righted simply by asking why.
Have respect. For yourself and others. Not just on-the-surface politeness, but actual respect. Acknowlege that you are a complete person. A person who has unique opinions, family problems, a rich cultural history, and interesting insights – just like the person sitting next to you in class does.
Have an open mind. There will be material, images, books, ideas, religious practices you are not comfortable with. Instead of immediately dissmissing these things, try to understand why others are not just comfortable with these things, but live by them. Your world becomes instantly richer as soon as you try this.
These are things I contstantly have to remind myself to do. Sometimes it's easier (and admittedly more fun) to be jugemental and dismissing, but really life is enriched when you accept others for who and what they are. For what they bring to the world, even if it's to solidify your own political opinions by dissagreeing so completely with someone elses, or to spring you into action against ideas that you find reprehensible. Especially if you've taken the time to understand why you feel that way.
I guess what I would teach them would be to open your eyes, your minds, yourselves.