This post was originally on The Freshman Transition Network.

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Many of our students have not seen real-life examples of success, of hard work, of overcoming problems, and of properly dealing with adversity. For some of them, we are the only people in their lives equipped to teach them these lessons.

I have been blessed to have people in my life like my "Papa and Grammy". They overcame extreme poverty, childhood in a children's home, the Great Depression, World War II, and many other obstacles to become successful in life, in love, and in their families. Our students need images like my Papa and Grammy - they need a chance to see what success looks like. This is why I spend time sharing ways that we can give them images of success whether through music or video or some other means.

Here are 2 ways that you can use the analogy of a HOLE to teach your students about life:

Part 1 - Short Story
First, share with your students this quote - actually it's a short story. It's from Portia Nelson and her 1993 book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk.

Chapter 1:
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am helpless.
It is not my fault.
It takes forever to find my way out.

Chapter 2:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4:
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5:
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk down another street.


I first heard this story in a marriage class my church put on. Then I saw it in
7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. When I shared it with my students I wondered if they'd be able to get it. I had it on the overhead for their Do Now assignment. I asked them to read it and reflect on it. (By that time in the year I had done a lot of quotes and my students had learned how to reflect on them.)

Bottom line - they got it and could apply it to their lives. I taught them that if you are in Chapter 3 you are ok because you have realized that your problems are your problems and that you need to fix them. The bad place to be is in Chapters 1 or 2 because you're blaming others and not ready to fix things in your life.

It was neat to see kids apply this quote throughout the rest of the year. I was able to say to students - "Why don't you walk around that hole?" and they understood what I meant.

Part 2 - Song
Once your students know and understand the story of the hole in the sidewalk you can let them hear the song "The Hole" by Randy Travis. Here are some of the lyrics to The Hole:

A friend of mine bought himself a shovel
Said I'm gonna tunnel me a mine
He set out to be a rich man
Happiness is what he thought he'd find

Got in too deep to see the diamond
Down too dark to see the gold
Now he won't let go of the shovel
And he can't dig out of the hole

Deeper and deeper he's going down
Driving his future right into the ground
He thinks he's closer the further he goes
But he's still on the bottom
And he can't dig out of the hole

I tried to throw the man a life line
I tried to send him down a rope
I don't think he hears me calling
But everyday I pray and hope
Somehow he finally gets the message
Every spade of dirt he throws
Only gets him closer to the devil
And he can't dig out of the hole

Maybe we could learn a little lesson
Maybe this'll shine a little light
Cause there's no healthy way to mess with
The line between wrong and right

Use the one chance you've been given
Cause once you're in the ground and cold
It's too late to start livin'
You see you can't dig out of the hole
It's hell on the bottom
And you can't dig out of the hole

Warning: The Hole is definitely a twangy country song. If your students are like mine they are going to laugh about it and probably make fun of it at first. But if you spend time helping them understand the lesson it teaches, if you give them an opportunity to brainstorm examples of how they have seen the lesson in their own lives, they will come around to the song eventually. It sort of grows on you after awhile even if you aren't a country fan.

Now that you have shared the short story and the song with your students, you have an image to which you can refer back for the rest of the year. You can ask students, "What chapter are you on?" Or you can say things like, "Quit digging!" They will understand what you mean and begin to recognize THE HOLE in their own lives.

Now they have an image on which you can build. You're helping them learn what success looks like.

Views: 36

Tags: habeeb, hole, images, in, nelson, portia, randy, scott, sidewalk, success, More…the, travis

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