(Part 3 in a series)
Student Obstacles #1 – “Life is Hard” & Brother’s Keeper
First, students tend to be afflicted by an inability or unwillingness to accept the simple fact that life is hard. This is explained very well by Scott Peck in the opening paragraph of his book, The Road Less Traveled:
Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
I have always liked what Justice Brandeis once said to a whining granddaughter, “Your problem, my dear, is that you do not accept that life is difficult. If you would simply accept that it is difficult, it would be so much easier for you.” These words apply to the vast majority of Hyde students. Kids have real difficulty accepting that life is difficult, and as Brandeis intimated, their tendency to hold onto the hope that life could be easy only makes it harder. A simple acceptance that life is difficult, that there will be hard times ahead, is one of the first things that Hyde students must do to develop the above two goals, but it is also one of the hardest.
The second problem, inextricably related to the first, is the notion of Brother’s Keeper. New students at Hyde typically regard it as a negative “snitch system” as opposed to the most powerful force in a healthy Hyde culture. Bottom line: If you don’t have Brothers Keeper, you will never have a Hyde culture.
The primary purpose of Brother’s Keeper is to create a community of people who care for each other, who make it safe, and indeed an expectation, for all of its members to take risks and do their personal best in all of their endeavors. In a Brothers Keeper community, working hard and taking risks is cool. While most kids start out with a distaste for Brothers Keeper, they tend to become ardent advocates once they benefit from it – i.e., once they accomplish something that they did not think they could accomplish – and they make the connection between the accomplishment and the fact that somebody pushed them to take this new step.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld