Friday, June 13, 2008


D is for Despise

One might be puzzled to see the word “despise” in a teacher’s alphabet, but I’m using the word according to one of its more intriguing definitions – “to regard as unworthy of one's concern.” I’ve noticed over the years that my students tend to become concerned about many unimportant, trifling things, and part of my responsibility as one of their teachers is to encourage them to give up these useless worries. I want to help them learn to despise any thoughts that take them away from their primary mission, whatever that might be. In my class, there is always a particular task at hand, some fact or skill that needs to be attended to, and my students must learn to scorn any worry that would distract them from that task. Using a derivative of the word “despise”, I might say that my students must learn to focus on the present task despite being besieged by other concerns. They must learn to give complete attention to the here and now in spite of whatever peripheral issues may be swirling around them. They must grow accustomed to spurning – despising – unimportant matters in order to be utterly attentive to the only important matter -- the current and specific assignment.

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