Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: ue 9/19/2006 3:53 AM
Random Thought: A Bit More On Being A Happy Teacher

" Play," "Fun," and "Happy" are exuberant words in MY DICTIONARY OF GOOD TEACHING for a very good reason. And, it's really simple. Playful, fun, and happy teaching makes me a child, a child at play, a child wondering, a child daring, and a child curious. If someone asked me what the aim of life is, I would answer that it is to become an adult while remaining a child at heart. I describe myself as an "experienced teenager." When someone asks my age, I tell them, "I'm 65 going on 8."

Play and fun and happy are the keys to life in general and teaching in particular. When we play, when we have fun, and when we're happy, we will do things without consideration of effort, time, or pay back. When I teach, I am that child. I am happy doing it, I am playing at it, and I am having fun at doing it.

I can attest that life shrinks or expands in proportion to how much you are truly having fun and how much you are truly happy. When you're having fun, when you're happy, when you're enjoying what you're doing, you've got a power and effectiveness to your teaching. When you're enjoying teaching, you're on your game; you're sharp as a razor blade. You age with a youthfulness and creativity. No empty, dead eyes. No sullenness. No shuffling along. Life stays with you. You're jazzed up. The pizzazz is there. The neurons keep firing. The flame keeps burning. You keep growing. It's fun and happiness and play that makes me 65 going on 8. That's why I always tell people that I'll retire when teaching stops being fun.

I'm not sure I know why the majority of us talk about the students and their attitudes rather than about ourselves and our attitudes. It's a crucial omission because our misery or happiness depends on our attitudes, not on our circumstances or on others. And, though we can't change reality around us, we can change our reality. We can change the eyes with which see reality and that new vision becomes our new reality. So, enjoying what you're doing depends on you than on your colleagues, students, or administrators.

Want to have fun; you don't need anything more than the will to have fun. You want to be happy, and you need nothing more than choose to be happy. Your attitude controls whether or not you're going to have fun and enjoy yourself. It's that simple and that hard, but that meaningful.

Part of my epiphany those many years ago was that I slowly discovered that as I lived as if I was happy, I surprised myself. I slowly became happy and did change my reality. I tell you from my experience that happiness is not a substitute for action. It's not a free ride. To have happiness in your heart is more than to merely wish. The power of happiness comes from the deeply compelling effort and commitment it inspires. Happiness is an indispensable ally when you've got to make the effort, take the time, and rise to the challenges. When we feel happy, our minds are open and expansive; when we're open and expansive we feel happy. Happiness, then, is an updraft. It makes us not only feel better but be better - better able to forge fulfilling relationships, find meaningful pursuits, and handle the vicissitudes of life. Happiness helps us stay healthy and whole no matter what the circumstances.

I stand here as an example that if you can choose to bring the power of enjoyment to bear on your teaching, you will. And, if you find the ways to do it, I guarantee that you'll be more creative, more loving, more hopeful, more encouraging, more empathetic, more supporting, more believing, more imaginative, more pleasant to be around, more accepting, more energetic, more positive, more resourceful, more likely to go outside your walls, more of everything. It often makes the difference in trying to make a difference. It's significant if you care to be significant.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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