Recently, I asked my 140 seventh graders in Boston to share the most interesting thing they’ve learned this year. Do the answers surprise you?
1. Books hold life lessons.
"I have been reading the book, Reason to Believe, by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and there were a lot of interesting universal meanings. One is about “knowing who you are.” Deval Patrick had to go through many hardships: His father made him feel bad about going to Milton Academy and Harvard University, and didn't support Deval’s dreams. Deval also lived in poverty when he was a child, but he “stayed true to himself.” Deval Patrick didn't give up when he thought that he couldn't do something, or when people had nicer or better things than him. (People at Milton Academy were very rich and had more background.) I realized that you shouldn't give up when people say that you aren't capable of doing something or that you are not smart or rich." - Yekalo
"The most important thing I have learned recently was from a short story called "The Lemming Condition." Prior to this lesson I had never heard of a lemming. I came across the quote, "Don't be a lemming" and after some thinking, I realized this meant one should not perform actions without a great amount of understanding about the topic. Lemmings jump off of cliffs, and they can't swim. Without a deeper understanding, the lemmings are prone to drown because they can't swim. The lesson we had on lemmings in my English class has had an impact on the way I make my decisions and perform actions now." - Camella
"The most interesting and valuable thing I have learned in class is the virtue of generosity. I learned it from the book Three Cups of Tea where a man gave his time and dedication to enable education for the less fortunate. Its impact on me was realizing that good things come to good people. This means to me that if you do something good, you will get something good in the end... not like getting a gift, but receiving something like respect." - Caitlyn C.
2. Cliques can be terrible.
"The most interesting thing that I learned was about cliques and how they affect people. Sometimes your best friend is now part of a clique and that's harsh. Also when cliques want make fun of you and say mean terrible stuff, that’s harsh too." - Dounia
"The most interesting thing I have learned is the idea of bullying. Bullying is something big, and affects everyone. Even smallest things can be bullying, so we should be careful what we say to each other. Think about it: bullying can sometimes end someone's life. Do you want to be person that is the cause of a death? Every life is important. How I learned from this was in Humanities when reading and discussing about cliques. I realized even not letting people in your "group" is bullying and we need to think before we act. If we don't, we might end up causing harm." - Chloe C.
"The most interesting thing that I learned this year was that people change. They might change from popular to unpopular. They can also change from getting good grades to bad grades. And this all happens with who you hang out with." - Anthony
3. Certain writing tricks are useful.
"I learned the MEAL format to structure a paragraph. It stands for Main Claim, Evidence, Analysis, and Link back to Main Claim. When I use it, my readers are better able to understand what I'm writing about." - Lila
"The most interesting thing that I recently learned was how to write an anecdotal lead. I just think it's kind of cool that we're allowed to write a brief story before starting certain types of writing. It helps me relax a little and lures in the reader." - Jasmine
"Before this school, I was clueless and thought all you needed in an essay was to get your ideas on paper. Now I know that in order to have an interesting juicy essay, it helps to follow certain tricks and formats. Now whenever I am writing essays I always do this, and also proofread my work." - Jessica
4. Physical learning is important, too!
"The most interesting thing that I have learned recently is how to pull off a Texas Tornado (Hockey trick) on ice. I learned it by practicing in my friend’s backyard rink, and practicing at both my school’s hockey team practices and my town's hockey team practices. This skill involves pulling the puck off the ice and onto your hockey stick (only using your stick). Then you spin for a three-sixty and at the last second you throw the puck into the net (much like a Lacrosse player would). This skill’s impact on me is it makes me a better Hockey player and it gives me better chances of scoring." - Henry
"The most physical thing I have recently learned was from my gym teacher. She told me I was doing my push-ups wrong. I need to put my hands closer under my shoulders but not too close or else you will fall and probably sprain your wrist when you fall. Do not put your hands farther away either; they have to be in the perfect position." - Grace
"The most interesting thing that I learned recently was how to use a snow plow. This is because I usually just manually shovel the snow and let my dad use the plow. Since the snow was very deep in Boston, my dad let me use the plow for once. I learned that the right lever was to shoot the snow out, the left one was to make the plow move, and the middle one was to control the speed and direction the plow moves. This will impact me because if there is another snow storm, I can get out of it a lot quicker by using the plow." - Timmy
Readers, what stands out to you in this list? What would you add? What is the most interesting thing YOU have learned this year?