Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Advice I Got in High School

Carolyn J. Rose

To pay homage to Dickens, it was the best of advice; it was the worst of advice. What teachers and adults told me when I was in high school was sometimes sound, sometimes off-the-mark, and sometimes warped by perspective and opinion.

The good advice was mostly about developing skills that would help in years ahead. Since the advice was handed out in the late 50s and early 60s, before growing concerns about self-esteem and PC, most of it came in negative form:

  • Don’t leave projects until the last minute
  • Don’t turn in sloppy work   
  • Don’t make excuses for what you didn’t do 
  • Don’t try to BS an expert
  • Don’t blame others for your faults 
  • Don’t shirk responsibility

But some of what was handed out as “good” advice veered more into the realm of opinion or personal experience:

  • You’ll never learn French because you don’t know how to suffer
  • You’re not serious enough to make it through the first semester of college
  • Don’t waste time in college learning things you won’t need to be a housewife 
  • There’s no reason to take a typing class unless you’re going to be a secretary
  • Stop complaining that you can’t take shop class and concentrate on cooking and sewing

Within a few years, women’s horizons expanded and, as a news producer facing dozens of deadlines for getting a show stacked and written, I was darn glad I’d demanded that typing class. I was also darn glad I hadn’t jettisoned my sense of humor.

If I were pressed to dish out advice to teens today, I’d spiff up the moldy oldy items from the first list. And, along with all that, I’d pass on some advice of my own:

  • Aim high
  • Feel deep
  • Plan wide
  • Try hard
  • Be kind

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