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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Instruct and Inspire

Samantha Strub
Class of 2013

(3/2013) After watching Good Night and Good Luck, I was saddened by Murrow’s startling words about the direction our nation is going if we do not challenge the intellectual minds of the public. I was shocked that Murrow was so adamant that if our nation continues to allow distraction and pleasure to govern our time, our comfortable and complacent lifestyle will collapse upon itself. I could not bring myself to believe Murrow’s words because it seemed depressing to me.

As I reflected on this, I was shocked that I was falling victim to the world of entertainment—not necessarily turning on the television, but turning on the radio or Pandora. I use the music as background sound to distract myself from the things around me. It is a distraction to have my headphones in and my attention focused on the screen in front of me. I hardly ever turn on the radio for an educational program; it’s all for a distraction. The screen in front of me goes with me everywhere. I always have an assignment to do, but more than likely, another tab will be up with Facebook or Twitter beckoning my attention, tempting me with the lure of pleasure, distraction and entertainment.

Then I got to thinking about Murrow’s words, "history is what we make of it." Take a moment and reflect on these powerful words. They made me think of the saying, "Life is what we make of it." People have goals for their lives. They know where they want to be and the wise ones plan and take actions to achieve those goals. They are making their life meaningful. Everyone will pursue a different approach to attain the end that they desire, but each approach involves action in order to succeed. No matter the profession, it involves action to achieve the desired end. If someone wants to become a nurse, they know they have to become a Clinical Medical Assistant, get a degree, complete practicums, and pass the final test. The same principle can be applied to someone who wants to be a teacher. Those who are studying education know they have to get a degree, complete internships and portfolios, and pass the final test. They know that it will be demanding and challenging, but they are willing to dedicate themselves to this course of action because of the desired end result.

Murrow wanted to inspire a nation into action. It might make people uncomfortable, but in order to create real change you have to encourage others and engage their intellectual abilities in order to motivate and inspire them to act. History is what we make of it—it is a call to action. What are you going to do? How will you change?

My response to this call was "ideas and information," a phrase which struck me numerous times in Murrow’s speech as he highlighted the importance of challenging the public with these concepts. My reflecting brought me to thinking about the profession that I have been pursuing for the past four years: teaching. I have been working toward attaining my degree in order to educate the minds of the youth. I have been striving for the education that will enable me to challenge the youth with "ideas and information." I was amazed with the connection between Murrow’s quest and my own. I want to instruct and inspire students. I want to instruct them in the wonders of English. I want to give them information. I want to challenge their thinking and push them onto higher-level thinking. I want to empower them to pursue their greatest potential. I want to inspire them into believing that they can do anything that they put their minds to. I want to inspire ideas in them and in turn, have their ideas inspire me.

I have felt the call to action that Murrow stressed without realizing it. I want to make people think and reflect. I want to call on the intellectual side of youth in the same way that Murrow called on the intellectual side of broadcasters and the general public. I want to challenge the youth with literature. I want to teach them life lessons through literature that will instruct and inspire them. I want to make the future generations think about the meaning of that literature and why it is important to them. I want to make literature practical and come alive for each and every student.

There is more to it than just feeling the call to action; it’s about following through. I was able to put this calling to challenge the minds of the youth into action through my internship. Hopefully this fall I will be able to put it into action even further with a full-time teaching job. As I assigned tests and quizzes to my student, I could tell that they were beginning to absorb the material I was teaching. It made my heart melt to grade my students’ work and have them complete it flawlessly. While it was important to see the positive results of my efforts, when my students fell short I felt a passionate desire to assist them in any way possible for them to succeed.

I know I challenged them because I would have deep intellectual conversations with my students about the literature topics discussed in class as well as topics that we never discussed in class. It was wonderful and reassuring to me to listen to the future of America think and reflect critically. There were always the students I had difficulty connecting with, and I felt the deep need to find a way to challenge them to reflect deeper on the concepts presented. That continual push to challenge my students intellectually is a constant challenge for me.

I know I inspired them because I would have long conversations about literature with certain students who wanted to read everything that they could get their hands on. If I recommended a book, they would return soon after with the book in their hands, wanting to discuss the first two chapters with me. Students were asking me for advice about situations both inside and outside of school. They came to me as a confidant. I know I made a positive impression on them because I have received emails from my students telling me how school is going, asking me about my classes, updating me on the topics they asked me for advice about and telling me how much they miss me. It is incredibly touching and a sign to me that I’m truly living out my calling to instruct and inspire.

It is wonderful and reassuring to know that I’m beginning my teaching career on a positive note; however, I’m nowhere close to being the perfect teacher. There is always something that I need to work on. I will continue to improve myself in order to better challenge, instruct and inspire my students to live up to their fullest potential and to, in the words of Murrow go out and "instruct and inspire with ideas and information."

Murrow’s analysis of technology is reflective of my aspirations to be a teacher; if we challenge ourselves and others by inspiring thought and knowledge, we can use the tools we are given to make a positive impact on the world.

Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount