Written by Lucy Dykes
As an educator for over 20 years, I have been fortunate and blessed to enjoy a career I truly love. I will admit, though, that today, more than ever, I’m scared. I’m scared because my current students aren’t the same students I taught twenty, or even ten, years ago. Our young people live in a rapidly changing, confusing, and sometimes dangerous world that we, even as adults, don’t always understand. Because we live in a digital and electronic driven world of change that challenges Christian values that shouldn’t change, I am scared. Every single day, I am scared.
Recently, the Tattnall faculty and staff attended an informative and helpful crisis management class designed to help us navigate our way through various situations I pray we will never encounter. Leaving that meeting, I was overcome with a singular, sobering thought: I am held responsible for the very life of someone’s most precious and valuable gift. Thinking about the weight of that accountability scares me.
Daily, Tattnall parents send us their children and trust that we will teach them, protect them, and love them. And I think our capable and nurturing faculty does a fine job in all those areas. Still, I can’t help but fear my own potential for failure. Am I equipped with the discernment and current, relevant knowledge necessary to handle every unique situation that arises? And despite my years of teaching experience, I’m still scared.
Because the world can change in the blink of an eye, what is relevant today may no longer be relevant in six months, and no matter how close or how involved with teenagers we may think we are, the discrepancy between a teenager’s world and an adult one is vast. We can’t fully understand it, and we never will. Trying to make sense of two different worlds scares me.
Many of our students possess far more knowledge than we do, and all of them can certainly access as much information as they need or want, whenever they want. Such information often contains misinformation. They don’t know what they don’t know. We don’t know what they don’t know. How do we, as teachers and parents, successfully guide young people through their world that we don’t live in or fully understand? How do we teach them to solve their own problems and become independent when we don’t have or know the information or misinformation available to them? How do we instill and reinforce values when the world presents them with conflicting ones? I don’t always know. Not knowing scares me.
Lately, I have given considerable thought to these factors that scare me about being a teacher in the 21st century. I have prayed for strength. I have prayed for wisdom. And I have been supported by my favorite words from scripture that tell me all I need to know: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). While being charged with the privilege of teaching, mentoring, and protecting your precious children, my students, I am confident that these gifts to all of us- power, love, and sound minds- will provide the perfect tools to prepare and lead our young people into this ever changing, yet beautiful world of possibility for all of them. That assurance leaves little room for me to be scared.