Live is hard, it's painful, it's lonely and it's completely unforgiving. It will chew you up and spit you out, just begging you to crumble beneath it's weighted fist without the strength to rise again.
But is that what I should teach?
They call me 'sensei', which literally translates to 'one who's come before'. Is it not the responsibility of 'the one who comes before' to warn the one who comes after? What moral human being would not leave some sort of sign or warning when spying a perilous pitfall in the path? If he himself tripped and fell, suffering greatly in the experience, would he not wish to help another avoid the same fate?
So why shouldn't I teach them to avoid this pain by setting up a series of warnings to prepare them for the difficulties they will face?
And yet... teaching hope seems much more appealing to my sensibilities. "You can do it!" "You can go the distance!" "You can accomplish everything and anything if you just apply yourself and believe!" It sounds like the script to a Disney film (all of which I love) but it is a shameless and boldfaced lie. No sane adult can deny that there are some things you cannot do, some places you cannot reach, no matter how hard you try and how much you want it. They probably won't be a famous astronaut or a professional baseball player or a Tony winning actor on Broadway and will instead find themselves in careers and lives they never intended.
Do teachers protect a child's innocence or simply make the inevitable fall not seem so far?
And yet I cannot fight the urge to tell them they might be any of those things because is not some child somewhere in this world unknowingly preparing to become that baseball star? That award winning actor? The President of the United States? In 50 years some teacher will turn on the TV and see one of his previous 4th Grade students being sworn into office.
So why not tell them these things are possible?
Is it still a lie if it boosts their spirits and pushes them further and faster than they ever would have gone otherwise? They will learn the woes of the world without my help, sooner or later, whether I like it or not. Until then I will paint a Disney-esque picture of happiness and life and fun, becoming the goofy and ridiculous character they need in life to keep them dreaming of something better.
Without action, simply dreaming of achievement is lazy... but achievement without dreaming is impossible.