Idols: My Criticism on the American Teacher

I recently received this book, “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller, from my mentor because it’s relevant to what’s going on in my life right now. I already like the book a lot, it has made me think a lot about my life. Here’s what I took away from chapter one:

The most painful times in our lives are times in which our Isaacs, our idols, are being threatened or removed (19).

I’m 4 months in and now I’m realizing boys aren’t my idols at all, love is; when I was a little girl I was picked on a lot from 1st to 4th grade, so I figured if no one liked me, it was my fault. It was because of me that I was being picked on. I remember thinking that no one loved me and even though my parents would sneak notes into my lunches that said, “mommy and daddy love you,” I still never felt loved. I knew my parents loved me, but kids spend about 40 hours a week at school, not including after school programs. And nowadays both parents work, our society is one where the majority of the average child’s social life is at school.

School was torture, until I got fed up with being picked on and fed up with telling the teacher, because I think we all know they don’t do anything.

So I bit him. I bit my bully and I’d tell my daughter to do the same.

He ran off and told the teacher and she told me next time he bothers me to tell her instead. I agreed but I had no intention of going to the teacher ever again. So she can do what? Say ‘stop it’ as she had so many times before? No, I don’t think so. My parents and grandparents always sided with me, I was constantly getting picked on by kids in carpool who were in the 4th and 6th grade and by kids in my own class. I was sick of it and if the teachers wouldn’t do anything, I would take care of it myself.

I believe that experience is what made me initially choose elementary education as my major, I know that a lot of teachers don’t really see what’s going on in their classrooms;

I did observation hours/student teaching at a daycare in New York and there was this little girl who was constantly picked on by everyone. She would try and join in with one group and they’d push her and tell her to go away, she’d go to another group and they’d do the same, and on and on. At reading time kids would whisper mean things to her and in trying to defend herself, she’d yell at them and she would be the one who got in trouble.While all of this was happening she’d look at me with this really sad look as if I were her last hope. There were three other teachers in this class, why was I the only one who saw what was really going on? The teachers were all so quick to yell and punish but no one took the time to actually understand situations. This made me angry.

When I was finally done with observation hours it was on to student teaching and I was able to get my hands dirty with the preschoolers. If I saw them being rude I would say things like, “no that was mean, lets play with her instead.”

In one conversation I asked a little boy, “why are you being rude to her?” and he said, “cause she’s littler and she wants this toy.” I said, “well so? You’re smaller than me, is it fair that I be mean to you too?”He replied, “no, I wouldn’t like that.” “So then lets share with her,” I said.

By my last day there was no boy punching a girl in the face, (that happened on my first day and the little girl got yelled at for crying before the teachers even knew what really happened!) and there was no one being picked on. Everyone played together and it was fun. I really hope it’s still like that.

My point is we don’t realize what affect these kinds of things have on kids, through these experiences idols are created that follow children into adulthood and they don’t go away until the child is old enough to identify and actively eliminate them. It’s our job, as adults, to nip bullying in the bud when we see it happening. Level with the kids, don’t jump to conclusions and start yelling. They’re not doing things because they’re bad kids, they’re doing things because it makes sense to them. Show them why it doesn’t make sense and why it’s wrong.

I wasn’t confident in myself until high school when my basketball coach told me, “if you shoot you have a 50% chance of making it, if you don’t you have a 0% chance.” I was a forward with no confidence. I was useless. But when he said that to me, I got the courage to shoot (I still wasn’t a very good basketball player though haha,) through basketball my self esteem went up and I tried volleyball too, then competitive cheerleading. And I wasn’t afraid to be amazing at track or at writing, I no longer felt like I needed to apologize for being great at something:

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Even though I am way more confident now, that little, insecure girl creeps back in every once in a while and I am reminded of my past and it can torture me and make feel just as insecure as I did then if I do not remind myself that my life is not about me, it is about serving others in the name of God. It is about using my talents to serve. When my friend sent me a text about my blog the other day I realized that I am serving just by writing and not being afraid of what others will think of what I write.

Being bullied made me tough, but it also made me lonely and lowered my self-image. It made me feel unloved and it made me make an idol out of something that is supposed to be a beautiful gift.

Something is safe for us to maintain in our lives only if it has really stopped being an idol.

That can happen only when we are truly willing to live without it, when we truly say from the heart:

‘Because I have God, I can live without you.’ (20).

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