My children–it’s what I call my students, use this excuse frequently. “But Ms. Carmichael it’s…” you name it and they’ve used it. “It’s early”, “It’s the end of the year”, “It’s almost Spring Break” and yes, “It’s Friday”.
And each time–each year–they do this I nod, ever so patiently, and say ‘ yes, my children, I’m aware of what day of the week it is, but just because Friday it is, work we still must do. And, did you know that Friday is a regular occurrence? It actually comes once a week!’
And thank God it does.
My students, some of them, had some difficulty focusing on research this particular Friday. Thus the title and inspiration for this post.
“Ms. Carmichael,” one scholar gabbles as I walk by on my circular rounds through my ever studious class. “If someone gave you a million dollars, would you give them an “A”?”
First, this is a preposterous proposal. I should have ignored it…but it’s Friday.
“Absolutely not,” I assert with a superior moral air. “I cannot be bought.” Which is probably true. Probably.
They don’t believe me and immediately several of the less than focused scholars begin to protest.
“Children,” I begin (they may be 18, but I still call them children…because, well, they are my children). “I assure you, I would not be able to live with myself if I accepted any kind of bribe and deprived someone of the education they deserve.”
I feel pretty confident this is true. I found $20 in the hallway earlier in the week. I spent a good deal of time trying to track down who could have dropped it. I ended up giving the money to a more worthy cause. I couldn’t keep it for myself. I didn’t earn it; it wasn’t mine; I felt guilty keeping it.
“But, Ms. Carmichael. It’s a million dollars.” (See? I told you they use that ‘But Ms. Carmichael’ line a lot).
“Yes, but it’s not always about the money. And at the end of the day I do have to live with myself.”
“Which you could do a lot more comfortably with the money,” he sneers.
“Do you think I couldn’t make more money at another job if I wanted to? I didn’t become a teacher because I had to. I could have done a number of things. I graduated third in my class from high school and had a near perfect GPA in college. I am perfectly capable of choosing and excelling at a profession that could generate a much higher capital. I teach because I want to.”
Another student smiles and puts in, somewhat smugly, “And if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I turned to this student. “No,” I said. “That’s not true.”
It’s total poppycock actually.
“But it is true!” he insisted. “Because if you are doing what you love, you aren’t actually working.”
“That’s a naïve cliché,” I said simply. “I do what I love. Every day. I teach you all, then I go home and I write. But I also work my tail off. Constantly, without reprieve sometimes. Just because you enjoy your work, doesn’t make it any less complicated, hard or grueling–Life is hard. The only way to be successful is to work at it. Any thing worth doing is worth working for.”
For a Friday, I think we learned a lot.