The other day I did a heart to heart on why 9th grade matters. I talked about how right now we make the decisions that'll affect the rest of our lives. I asked the kids to close their eyes and picture where they'll be in 10 years. I asked them to picture things like what they want to look like, what they want to be doing, ya know, basic questions. Then I have them open their eyes and talk about how different each one envisioned their future. I said, "Sure everyone envisions it different but there are a few things I can guarantee. I guarantee not a single one of you dreamed of being completely strung out on drugs in 10 years or in federal prison, or dropped out of school working some minimum wage job trying to make ends me. Oh I am sure not a single one of you thought, 'Oh boy, I hope in 10 years I have an STD." (lots of nervous laughs)
No one thinks that but in 9th grade I watch kid after kid start making choices that'll lead them down that path.
Anyway, the heart to heart goes on and on but that's not the point of this post. Here is what absolutely blew my mind. The next day as a follow up I had a quiz asking them to write down in as much detail as possible what they want their future life to look like. It was so sweet to read each of these kids' dreams. It was good for me to start seeing my 282 punk 14 year olds as people, kids with dreams and hopes. Anyway, here is the point of this. One or two in all of the regular classes had the most shocking answers to the question. It wasn't that they were dreaming so big, so large, so unrealistically that I just laughed. Sure I had a few of those. But that wasn't what shocked me. What was insanely shocking and even more depressing was there were kids that said, "I don't know. I don't care. I don't have any idea."
Now clearly I could say they just didn't trust me enough to tell me their dreams. But sadly I've taught too many kids just like these to know.... they don't have dreams. They have no idea where they want to head, know idea what they want. And sadly without even looking at these kids' transcripts I already know what kind of grades they have. I know exactly where they are headed. I've never found this connection so clearly.... if kids don't have goals or dreams or an idea of where they want to head, they don't make good decisions.
Once again, like so often, I see the genius of the Gospel. Our Gospel is all about the future. Where we'll be, what we'll be doing, what we want to be doing. I see a value in missions and temple marriages in a completely different light for the youth of the church. Even if a kid doesn't know what he wants to do for a living or what college he wants to attend at 14 the church gives him the direction of missions and temple marriage that guides decisions.
I've listened to a couple of podcasts that've rocked my world. 1 looked at the world's countries that make better decisions about the future compared to America. They looked at savings and retirement, smoking, and unprotected sex. They found countries that had a weird thing with language made very decisions about the future than English and Romance language speakers. Many Asian and Scandinavian countries make way better decisions for the future. They discovered what these languages had in common is they have no separation in their language between present and future tenses. To those languages it is the same thing. Clearly that is not the case for English and Romance languages. We are taught through our languages that present and future are different in turn we make decisions as such. We make decisions that benefit us now rather than in the future.
Another podcast was looking at why we make decisions that we regret in the future (ie tatoos) Their conclusion was that we have a very difficult time imagining the future so we only make decisions based on the present.
Both these podcasts made me so grateful for the church and the wisdom of my parents. I was raised with a clear vision of what my future should look like. This little activity with my students once again reminded me of the value and wisdom of the church and man oh man I feel lucky to be a part of it.