Thursday, October 30, 2014

Your Assignment: Say Something Nice.

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.  

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the names of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.  Before long, the entire class was smiling.  "Really?"  She heard whispered.  "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!"  And, "I didn't know others liked me so much", were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again.  She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter.  The exercise had accomplished it's purpose.  The students were happy with themselves and one another.  That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam, and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student.  She had never seen a  serviceman in a military coffin before.  He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends.  One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin.  The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her, "Were you Mark's math teacher?" He asked.  She nodded, "Yes".  Then he said, "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon.  Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket "They found this on Mark when he was killed.  We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.  The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said.  "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around.  Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said,
"I still have my list.  It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too,"  Marilyn said.  "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group.  "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued.  "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried.  She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget, that life will end on day.  And we don't know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important.  Tell them before it is too late.

                                        - Author Unknown

I love this story!  It is such a good story and such an inspiration to me about how we should treat others.  I also live in the real world too.  I wonder how the story would have been told if one or two of the kids decided to say what they really felt about their classmates?  Instead of saying some thing nice, they wrote down something they didn't like about each classmate.  OR what if the students DID write down things they didn't like about their classmates, but the teacher changed their comments and wrote down nice things?  And all these years the teacher never told a soul about what she had done.  Would the outcome have been the same?  Would the teacher have had the same reaction?  Somehow I don't think so.  It's interesting to me that although we may never get the chance to do an exercise like the one in this story, but don't we all want to know how others feel about us?  Don't we want to know that others care about us?  Of course we do.  

Now, what about those people who you do not see eye-to-eye with?  Or those people who you have had arguments with?  Do they need or even deserve to hear nice thing?  Would it surprise you if I told you that this teacher decided to have the class do this exercise because she had hoped it would change the hearts of some of her students that had been fighting and arguing with one another months prior to the exercise?  What if I told you that those students in the story that were surprised by some of the comments on their notebook paper were from those students they had been arguing with?  Would you be surprised?  Did you think that was even possible?  What if I told you that Mark the soldier, Charlie, Chuck, Marilyn, and Vicki were the ones who had been arguing with one another?  Now do you understand why it took until the end of the class to complete their assignment?  What the story forgets to tell you about are the details of their argument and the punishment that each student would receive if they could not complete the assignment of writing down one nice thing about each of their classmates.  Each of these students would have faced detention if they could not complete their assignment.  

None of the students said a word about this assignment with their parents because they feared they would be punished at home for their actions at school.  So, like the parents in the story, they had no idea, and were surprised when they found out about the worn pages of notebook paper each student kept.  After this assignment all the classmates remained close and put their differences aside once they read their own notebook pages.  This assignment was the end of a bad situation and the beginning of long lasting friendships.  So, if you find yourself in a similar situation like the students who were arguing try this assignment out, give it a try, and see if you too will be able to put aside your differences with someone and forge a new, long lasting bond with someone you never thought of bonding with.  

If children can put aside their differences, then why can't we?  

(DISCLAIMER:  The words below this story are merely the opinion of the author of this blog.  Not actually true and meant only to make you think.  Did it work?)

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