13 Life Lessons Students Can’t Learn from a Book

No, grades are not everything.

life lessons

“Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Don’t hang out with people who do those things. Make responsible choices. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t do it.” This is what I say to my classes before every weekend without fail. It is not part of the curriculum, but I hope they will remember nonetheless.

We’ll teach our students many things over the course of a school year and not all of them come from a book. These are the life lessons I hope I can impart on my students before they graduate.

 

1. Don’t let technology dictate your life.

The simple fact that Netflix will start another episode in 20 seconds, does not mean you need to watch it right now. Netflix will also save your spot for later.

2. Tight-rolled pants are not cool.

I lived this. Learn from me. I have pictures to prove it. You can’t fall victim like I did. Don’t let those who control fashion trends roll the clock back to 1993.

3. Don’t obsess over your looks.

No one really cares what you are wearing, or what your hair looks like. We have an epidemic of selfies because that is what everyone is looking at: themselves. I promise, you can come to school wearing comfortable clothes and no makeup and your life will only improve.

4. Fitness is important.

Mens sana in corpore sano. Sound mind in a sound body. Your brain can’t function at its best trapped in a sedentary shell. Move around more, but do it because of how it makes you feel more than just how it makes you look. Granted, that is a nice side effect.

5. Perfect attendance is not a good thing.

If you make it through four years of high school without taking a “mental health day” you have missed something wonderful. School is important. There are things more important, like freedom and rebellion. Go watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

6. No really does mean no.

This is not a place for confusion or gray area. “If you are not sure if someone wants you to touch/kiss/sleep with them,” I tell my students, “ask outright.” Anything other than a clear and enthusiastic “yes” means “no.”

7. Cheating is bad.

Get away with it or not, cheating erodes your sense of self-worth, your integrity, and your character. Bad grades are not as bad as turning yourself into a liar.

8. Grammar is important.

There = the place. Their = possession. They’re = They are. Your = possession. You’re = you are.

9. Money isn’t everything.

Your life and career goals should not revolve solely around money no matter how many people tell you it should. Doing what you love to do will bring you happiness. Doing what you don’t love to do and getting paid more will only bring you more money.

10. Overachieving is overrated.

A “B” is not a bad grade. It is a very good grade.

11. Never stop trying to better yourself.

Life is like good writing: write, rethink, revise, rewrite, repeat.

12. Communication is important.

Humans are hardwired to interact face-to-face. Technology is great, but happiness requires eye contact, laughter you can actually hear, and physical contact.

13. Listen to the voice inside your head.

When it tells you to say something to the guy making the homophobic joke, say it. When you wonder if a comment was meant to be racist, ask. Stand up for what you know is right.

What life lessons are you trying to teach your students? Share in the comments. 

Jeremy Knoll

Posted by Jeremy Knoll

Knoll is a public school English teacher of nearly two decades. Outside of the classroom he spends his time working as a freelance writer or exploring the outdoors with his wife, two boys, and dog. He loves the subject he teaches so much that he named his dog Atticus and got a half-sleeve tattoo depicting a scene from Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to celebrate the birth of his kids.