Very Superstitious – Helping Students Understand Mixed Realities

Break a mirror and you bought seven years of bad luck; put your purse on the floor and you’ll lose your money; buy your lover shoes and the lover will walk out of your life; 13 is very unlucky and Friday the 13th is the worst; black cat crosses your path and that’s not good; left hand itches and you’ll lose your money; a woman is the first to contact you on New Year’s Day and a year of bad luck. These are some of the superstitions that we hold to explain the unexplainable, and they are all negative and about bad luck. There aren’t many that bode well for the superstitious. They give us an excuse to be afraid.

What I have had, and I say this because I’m putting it behind me, is a fear of February. I discovered that February was a month to fear during my twenties when I would get down and depressed.  I would be prone to crying spells and I couldn’t see any good in my life. This was very puzzling to my young husband. One February, he took me to Saks Fifth Avenue and bought me a beautiful raccoon coat that we definitely could not afford. The coat was gorgeous and the gesture by my husband to cheer me up was wonderful.  I still cried. Some say that the long winters and lack of sunlight may be reasons for some of us to get “the Februaries.” I’m always glad when February is over. My dad died in February; my mother died in February, and a dear friend got a CAT scan the very last day of February this past week and the results were not encouraging.

All of these things give truth to the lie that February is a month to dread.  Then, I think about the number 13 and Friday the 13th, in particular.  I don’t fear; I look forward to Friday the 13th because our son, Dan, was born on Friday the 13th, the most blessed day of our lives. With this in mind, I decided on March 1 that I would change my way of thinking about February and make it a month to look forward to and have faith that it will bring me what my heart desires; it will bring me good luck. I will look to February with faith and not fear.

What superstitions and illogical fears do our students bring with them? When I speak with students now, they are anxious about their future. They read that our country is losing its promise. They hear the stories about college graduates who will never work in their field of interest.  A challenge for educators is to help students see their future from multiple perspectives. That is, they should understand the realities of the current context that are not all positive and not all negative. They need to research and study their possibilities beyond the dire headlines that make the news. They need to have faith that the American Dream is still there for them, and their college education will equip them to be successful in the way they define success and not in the manner that others define it. What are the fears of our students? Ask them what they fear and help them see their potential in a world that is full of superstitions and predictions that scare us. Help them change the meaning of their Februaries.

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