Aug 11

One Road or Many Paths

I’ve been drawn to the song Am I Wrong? by Nico & Vinz. If you haven’t heard it check it out (here’s the link in case the video doesn’t play):

I thought it had to do with true love until I watched Vinz and Nico explain what the song is all about (here’s the link in case the video doesn’t play):

Turns out this song really explains something we as educators face every time we work with our students. We teach kids who, like Vinz and Nico, have a dream, a vision of what their future is going to be whether that means being a movie or tv star, a famous musician or singer, a major league, NBA, or NFL sports player, a doctor or anything else kids can dream of. We also have kids who change their mind but at any point in their lives have a dream of what they want to do with their lives. We also have kids who don’t know what they want to do, yet.

Do we teach each of the above groups differently? Imagine those kids in your classroom like Nico and Vinz. I teach Science. They may have determined that they don’t need Science. Their experience in my Science class will be very different from kids who want to be scientists or doctors or something where they are interested in Science and realize that they need to learn it to achieve their dreams. The kids who don’t know that they want to do might be convinced to learn Science because they either may need it in the future OR by trying it out they might just find that ONE thing they want to do! Maybe. More than likely it’s what most teachers know, we need to make the learning experience relevant, interesting, fun, exciting so that kids will want to engage with and learn it.

That’s how I approach whatever I teach: try it, you might like it. 🙂

But I keep thinking of Nico and Vinz (well, the students I’ve had who like them have a dream and a vision). From the song Vinz says:

Am I wrong for thinking out the box from where I stay?
Am I wrong for saying that I choose another way?

I ain’t tryna do what everybody else doing
Just cause everybody doing what they all do
If one thing I know, I’ll fall but I’ll grow
I’m walking down this road of mine, this road that I call home

And Nico quotes himself in the above video:

Walk your walk and don’t look back, always do what you decide
Don’t let them control your life, that’s just how I feel
Fight for yours and don’t let go, don’t let them compare you, no
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, that’s just how we feel

Now both these talented young men made their dreams come true and it’s a pleasure to behold. I like how Nico tells those who feel like he feels, “don’t worry, you’re not alone.” That’s pretty awesome. I’ve heard teachers worry because the reality is that compared to the number of people who go into certain industries, like the music industry, very few actually make it. Even with shows like American Idol, which gives newcomers a shot at making their dreams come true, thousands audition and only a dozen or so get enough air time to be discovered. At least discovered big time.

I bolded the part where Vinz says, “I’ll fall but I’ll grow.” He knew that even if he failed at his dreams he would grow. He knew that failure is nothing but a learning experience. Such a Growth Mindset! Isn’t that what we want of kids? So do we encourage kids to follow their dreams even if that means not engaging with our curricula? I see the whole Fedex Day, Passion Day, 20% Time, Genius Hour trend to be teachers finding ways to let kids explore their dreams. Their visions. The way I see it even if you don’t, “make it big,” there’s a lot to say for living your dream.

Not all of us know right off the bat what we want to do in life. And some of us think one thing and then find our true path. I fell into education quite by accident. Going into college I wanted to be a veterinarian. I struggled with the courses needed for pre-vet but luckily for me I was able to teach the new incoming students at my martial arts club when I reached a high enough belt. I fell in love with teaching. When I switched gears after a few years of failure and struggle I experienced success! Everything changed for me because of that experience teaching white belts. I never even saw that coming and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

So some of us find our dream early on and we stay true to that one path. For Nico & Vinz it was music. Maybe along their path Science, Math, and other subjects weren’t as necessary (maybe, I certainly don’t know but I do know that I’ve students who felt they really didn’t need Science so they really didn’t do much in my class). So even if kids like Nico & Vinz don’t engage in our classes they can still be very successful. Even if they don’t make it big like Nico & Vinz if they get to play music everyday and make people smile and enjoy themselves, they are still successful. Then there are those kids who may change their minds because of something we do in our classes! Or maybe we can just help them enjoy learning our subjects.Whatever their future holds there will be multiple paths to get them there and our subject might be one of those paths. We as educators expose kids to our curricula just in case they’ll need it or that it will help them do whatever they will end up doing.

As Nico & Vinz say, “If you tell I’m wrong… I don’t wanna be right.” That’s just how I feel too.

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