COMMENTARY: What I’ve Learned: The Perspective From 13-Year-Olds

A few years ago I got a note from Sam Rangel, an eighth-grade teacher in Corona, California. He distributed some of my commentaries on “What I’ve Learned” to his students and asked them to write down what they’d learned over the past year or in their lives. Here’s the world of growing wisdom from the 13-year-old perspective:

* I’ve learned that work comes first; fool around later.

* I’ve learned that being popular isn’t everything.

* I’ve learned that being pretty on the inside is better than being pretty on the outside.

* I’ve learned that not everything in life is fair.

* I’ve learned that all people want is someone to listen to them.

* I’ve learned that girls seem to fight with their friends a lot, but almost never with their enemies.

* I’ve learned that it takes a long time to make a friendship and a fraction of a second to destroy it.

* I’ve learned that your imagination is as important as your knowledge.

* I’ve learned that to say no to someone is not wrong.

* I’ve learned that by following others, you aren’t following yourself.

* I’ve learned that the harder it is to do something, the stronger it makes us.

* I’ve learned that I am responsible for me.

* I’ve learned to give everybody a second chance.

* I’ve learned that teenagers will do dumb things.

* I’ve learned that if you respect your elders, they will respect you too.

* I’ve learned that words do hurt people more than sticks and stones.

* I’ve learned that when I come to a fork in the road, ask for help.

* I’ve learned that the easy way is not the best way.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 3

  1. Yopur sentence “I’ve learned to give everybody a second chance”. This represents to me one of the nicest principles which could make much better our societies. Unfortunately not only persons but also religions do not follow it.

  2. Sadly, none of these say “I’ve learned to be humble.” I would assume these responses top the list, and we could be very concerned with the responses at the bottom of the list. There’s one magical word that is sadly missing here, and from too much of society – ‘humility’. Humility is a value above all. Unfortunately, it is characterized as the opposite of ‘pride’. I’m guessing we could ask the same 13-year-olds and the majority would not know how to begin defining humility, let alone know how to practice it. Pride is good, but if we focused less on teaching our youngsters to be proud we could open the door for more acceptance of humility, and eventually have a society that thinks less of themselves and more of others. THIS is what needs to be taught, to instill in all at a young age that humility is an enviable quality, and a sign of character strength rather than weakness.

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