As a teacher, I often get frustrated when my students ask me the question, "Why do we need to learn this?" After spending hours grading papers, reading textbooks, searching for educational material, and making lesson plans, I still get asked this very annoying question…along with questions like, "What is the point of knowing all this stuff" or even, "How are we going to use this in our real lives?"
Needless to say, I've noticed that young people are not often fascinated with the subjects of Mathematics, Science, History, English, or even Geography. They just don't seem to understand the value of mastering this priceless knowledge. I finally got fed up with being asked questions like these, so I forced myself to sit down and construct the ultimate answer.
If you are a teacher, and if you get asked the question, "Why do we need to learn this?"…stop giving the same useless and lame answer, "Because it's important for your future," and do the following:
Your students may start to give you looks of horror and confusion…but keep telling the story anyway.1. Stop lecturing and remain silent for a few moments until the classroom becomes quiet. (The students know something is wrong when the teacher suddenly stops talking, and they tend to quiet down.)
2. Slowly close your book, and sit down at the front of the classroom.
3. Take off your glasses, put the end piece of your glasses underneath your lips in a sophisticated, "education-like" pose, and lean back in your chair.
4. After looking at your students thoughtfully for a few moments, lean forward and repeat the following:
Now students… you often ask me why we have to learn this stuff. Well, to answer that, let me tell you a little story about two guys I used to know in high school. Their names were Ricky and Danny. Please close your books and pay attention.
5. Students love stories, so they will definitely perk up when you say this. Wait for a few more moments, and then continue your story.
You see, kids… Ricky was a real ladies man. Women couldn't resist him. He was the most popular guy in school, and he had a new girlfriend just about every week. And they were all extremely attractive. Ricky loved to party and have a good time, and he never took anything too seriously. Women—and life in general—just came easy to Ricky. Everyone called him "Slick Rick."
Danny, however, was very different. He wasn't as good looking and "slick" as ole Ricky. He didn't get all the women, he never partied, and he never really even dated anybody. However, he did spent most of his time studying, working hard, and being an honest person. He wasn't very popular, but people could always count on him.
Ricky and Danny were two very different people. Ricky got all the women and all the attention, but he was also not a very good person. He was selfish, he never studied or worked hard, he drank all the time, he lied to people, and he cheated on every girlfriend he ever had. Ricky didn't care about life. He just wanted wanted to drink, party, and sleep with beautiful women. Danny, on the other hand, was always nice to people. He was honest, he had a good attitude, he loved to learn new things, and he was an all-around decent individual. The only thing Danny ever wanted out of life was to meet his true love. He wanted to marry the girl of his dreams, settle down in a nice home with a white picket-fence, and live a good, honest, and decent life.
Well…"Slick Rick" just kept right on partying, getting drunk, lying to people, and cheating on his girlfriends….and Danny just kept right on being an honest, reliable person. And he kept on waiting patiently and praying that the girl of his dreams would show up.
And one fine day, Danny finally met her. Her name was Jill, and she was absolutely beautiful. She had gorgeous, brunette hair that draped innocently around her shoulders, and she had lovely, brown eyes that could melt the polar ice caps. The day that Danny met her, she was wearing the prettiest white dress with pink flowers. She was a real sweetheart, and Danny fell hopelessly in love with her. And you know what kids…she was A VIRGIN!!!
Danny got down on his knees and thanked God that the woman of his dreams had finally arrived. His prayers, his hard work, and his honesty had finally paid off. The future was looking brighter than Heaven.
Well anyway, Danny was walking through the park one night, skipping gleefully along the path and dreaming of his happy future with Jill when he suddenly heard a very unusual noise. It almost sounded like a woman casting off a tired sigh. Quietly and cautiously, he walked ahead…trying to locate where the noise was coming from.
Eventually, the tired-sounding sighs became agonizing yet deep and passionate moans.
Nervously, Danny went forward….and sure enough, he discovered that it was not the sound of a woman casting off a tired sigh…it was the deep and heavy moaning of a woman losing control of herself while having multiple, explosive orgasms.
Danny finally reached the site…and when he did, he saw two people in an open-top car making desperate, wild, animal-like love together. Well, it just so happened that these two people were Ricky and Jill. Danny sat there stunned as he watched their bodies moving in perfect, sensual harmony. The white dress with pink flowers was crumpled up on the ground…full of love stains, dirt, and lost innocence.
In an extreme moment of shock, rage, and anguish, Danny ran wildly though the park and hurled himself off the nearest cliff.
(Your students may start to give you looks of horror and confusion at this point, and some of them may actually leave the room…but keep telling the story anyway.)
Ricky eventually married Jill and they both moved into a small house with a white picket fence. They have wonderful sex every single day.You see kids… Danny didn't exactly "land" right away after he jumped. He smashed into numerous jagged rocks and protrusions on the way down. These "rocky" encounters (if you can pardon my humor) resulted in a permanent limp, a missing eyeball, two broken arms, smashed testicles, numerous internal injuries that caused him to gurgle on a constant basis, and a very unique brain injury that allowed him to twist his body backward in a perfect 90-degree angle while drooling incessantly and speaking in foreign tongues.
Needless to say, Danny wasn't very capable of taking care of himself in this condition, so he had no choice but to turn to the only people who would love him unconditionally: his parents.
He stayed at home with his parents, who agreed to love and protect him as long as he lived. However, they did eventually grow tired of taking care of a gruesome, one-eyed, sterile, weeping, crippled, drooling, gurgling vegetable…so they sold him to the circus where he had to deal with young children mocking him, throwing candy at him, and asking their mothers the question, "Mommy, what the fuck is that?"…every single day for the next 10 years.
Eventually, Danny died alone in a dark, blue room with no windows.
Ricky, on the other hand, eventually married Jill and they both moved into a small house with a white picket fence. They have wonderful sex every single day, and Ricky recently won the lottery, so they are actually both rich now. Life turned out great for both of them.
(At this point…some students may vocally express their horror by asking you what the point of this story is and how this is related to education. Tell them to be patient and that you're getting to the point.)
Now kids… this is the important part. You see… in Danny's urgent attempt to end his own hopelessly incurable grief and wretched despair, he had failed to consider his physical surroundings, the laws of gravity, and the formulas of geometry. HE HAD FORGOTTEN THE LESSONS HE LEARNED IN MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, AND GEOGRAPHY. In other words, as he was desperately trying to hurl himself toward his own meaningless and painful death, he didn't take the time to calculate the approximate height of the cliff, the weight of his own body, the mass of the Earth, the geographical features of the cliff, or the actual length that a person can leap while feeling immense heartache and eternal anguish.
Now, if Danny had only taken the time to think for a moment… and if he had carefully considered the factors, namely:
- The height of the cliff;
- The length of a suicidal leap; and
- The weight of his own body in relation to the mass of the Earth.
…And if he had chosen a proper geographical location as well as an appropriate mathematical formula with which to relate these factors to the force of gravity…he may have been fortunate enough to hurl his body far enough to achieve one solid landing.
And like I briefly mentioned before…Danny not only failed to precisely calculate the appropriate mathematical factors of leaping desperately off a cliff, he also forgot to consider the geographical features of the area. You see, students… a cliff is a significant, vertical, rocky exposure that is formed as a result of the slow process of weathering and erosion. And unfortunately for Danny, cliffs usually consist of igneous rocks, such as granite and basalt, which both happen to be resilient to weathering and erosion.
Now, in order to commit suicide, Danny should have chosen an escarpment, which, unlike a regular cliff, is a steep slope resulting from the faulting process that creates two adequately level areas of differing elevations. With proper displacement of the ground surface and the erosion of less resilient rocks, Danny would have had a much better chance of achieving an uninterrupted vertical dive into an inevitable, crippled pile of his own broken bones and warm blood.
AND THAT, STUDENTS, IS WHY EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT!!!
After you tell this story… wait for about 25-30 minutes after the class period is over as it circulates around the hallways. By about that time, you will probably hear something very similar to what I heard over the loudspeaker…
"MR. JANSEN…CAN WE SPEAK TO YOU IN THE MAIN OFFICE, PLEASE?"