Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Last Lesson

As you know, this was my last week of teaching. A colleague, a science teacher whom I greatly respect and who taught one of my twins, shares final thoughts with parents and students every year. This year he shared them with me and with his permission, I'm sharing them with you.

A Final Mr. Brügge Story...

It’s a tale of the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet. In science we are far too lazy to write out the full name for ideas and concepts so we often use letters from the Greek alphabet as shorthand for math and science ideas.

The 18th letter in Greek is sigma, which looks a bit like an arthritic capital E. Although it’s not a symbol we use in 8th grade, it will soon become part of your high-school or college science vocabulary.

We use sigma to stand for the sum of mathematical terms. More broadly, however, we are all sigma. We are the sum of our experiences. Some of this we control and some is simple a given because of the circumstances of our birth.

I would like to think that we are actually greater that the sum of our experiences. It should be, then, our job to make the most of our sigma. I offer four free pieces of advice in order to get the most out of your life:

1. Be passionate! I know that passion and middle school probably should not ever appear in the same sentence, but I mean the passion for understanding. Become the local expert on how to take apart a computer—and put it back together, of course. Know the name of every aircraft that passes overhead. Memorize every baseball statistic since Babe Ruth. These passions may or may not lead to a career but they will bring you joy throughout your life.

2. Say “thank you!” Tomorrow at the promotion ceremony, thank the adults who are there to see you walk across the stage; they are there because they love you. Ten years from now when you think kindly about one of your former teachers, look her up and send a note. A sincere thank you will serve you well always.

3. Admit when you are wrong! I’ve made a point this year to give out homework passes when I make a mistake in GradeBook Wizard. While I don’t make too many mistakes, they do occur. The small things are easy to own up to; the bigger ones take character. Trust me, your marriage—please wait at least ten years—will be much happier if you understand this very important concept.

4. Be sigma! You have the ability to take your experiences and become more than the simple sum.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Brügge

Since I am now stepping into a new world, so to speak, his words spoke to me. No, I"m not an eighth grader, but I don't think these thoughts are limited to the young in years. The young in heart can always benefit as well. Thank you, Steve, for letting me share.


Books I'm reading now:
Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh

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