On Anger

My first period class on Friday was a little too loud and off task for my liking.  They were using laptops to research mythologies from around the world and were sharing some of their findings: strange stories and risqué artwork.  Learning was happening; albeit loud learning.  I kept circling the room like a hawk on the hunt, reminding them to quietly focus on their research.  I did not threaten them with detentions, defenestration, or death.  After all, it was the end of the week; there was a full moon, and three-fourths of the class were freshmen boys.  Nothing I hadn’t ever dealt with before, yet frustration and a little anger was building up inside of me.  I took a few deep breaths and looked at what one of the young ladies was researching:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It was like a jolt of electricity.  I realized that was me.  Should I feed the anger, or should I be happy that students were researching?  I decided to be happy they were learning, even if it was a little louder than I liked it.

This would be a decent story if it ended here.  However, tonight, my son needed some help on his homework.  He is reading Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen.  This is the passage he needed help with:

He makes Cole dip completely into the water shoulder-high and then asks him to break a stick, whose left side represents anger and right side represents happiness. The lesson implied is that if you focus on anger and try to break the left side off, a left side of the stick always remains. Edwin tells Cole how when he was banished to the island he would dip himself everyday in the freezing pond and try to focus on the happy end of the stick, not the angry end. 

As we finish our research and begin creating the Prezi to share with the class, I will have to share these stories with the students who become frustrated or angry.

Cover of "Touching Spirit Bear"

Cover of Touching Spirit Bear


1 Comment

Filed under Education, Learning, Lessons from students

One response to “On Anger

  1. I had seen that story about the wolf many years ago. I may be Australian but I have seen some of the native American philosophies and am deeply impressed by them. I hadn’t heard of the second one but it is also profound. It is always a spiritual moment when the student teaches the teacher don’t you think? Great post as always. Thanks.

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