A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I began my teaching career. I like to think that I was the Yoda to the younglings in my classroom. Remember in The Empire Strikes Back when Yoda tells Luke Skywalker, “No! Try not. Do. Or do not!! There is no try”? It seems like Yoda is telling Luke to not try, just do it. He must have had a Nike endorsement.
When I first began teaching, I had students write rough drafts, peer edit in class, and write a final copy. Then, I noticed that their editing skills were weak. True revising was not occurring. Plus, freshmen prefer to use the time to socialize instead of do work. I was incredulous! I am so glad all of the committees I have been on have not been like that.
So, my thoughts of students actually revising their essays into literary masterpieces on their final copy flew into hyperspace faster than the Millenium Falcon can jump into hyperspace. I felt like Yoda, saying, “Do or do not!”
Within weeks I realized that that was not exactly what Yoda meant. Students had to learn how to be better writers by making mistakes and revising, revising, and revising, not writing perfectly the first time. In fact, I have rewritten this blog six times now.
Ironically, Yoda’s words are an absolute, and as Obi-Wan Kenobi told Anakin in Revenge of the Sith: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes!” Of course, Obi-Wan’s words are an absolute, but his meaning is that the dark side only allows the person to see everything as right or wrong, good or bad. A Jedi knows that there are many shades of right and wrong. But I digress. To really understand what Yoda means, you have to see it in the context of the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3hn6fFTxeo
Yoda wants Luke to have a positive mental attitude. This will lead to success. Not just trying.
I recently wrote about one young man who set a goal for himself to get an A. Last grading period he had a B-. Last week he began a daily competition with another student to see who will achieve the higher grade. I am happy to report they both have an A.
Lizzie is another student who has improved. Last nine weeks she failed. She was apathetic and not doing all of her assignments. After she got the report card, we discussed her strengths. She also discussed the ramifications of her lack of effort with her parents. It seems she has changed her mind faster than a clone trooper asking Obi Won about two droids. Lizzie is doing all of her work and currently has a B. She does not see any assignment as difficult. She has unlearned the negative way of thinking and now has the confidence to do the work.