I Care About You

I am fifty-two years-old.  Since July 3, 1989, I have been teaching high school music.  I have been accused of all sorts of things:  too tough on the students; saying “bad” words in the classroom; saying “we suck” (as I told administrators, “Well, there are times when we are bad.  So, if you want me to say horrendous, terrible, embarrassing, etc., I can.  I just think “suck” is not as harsh as other words).

One of the things I have been accused of:  Mr. Everts, you care too much about your students.  Yes!  I know.  Flippin’ strange.  “Mr. Everts, you care too much about your students.”  As of November 10, 2018, there are two incredible statements said about me as a teacher.  1). When I was being asked questions by the district’s lawyer at the deposition, I told the truth.  One of the TRUTH-FILLED ANSWERS made the district’s lawyer giggle.  The union rep seating next to me told the district’s lawyer, “That’s part of Mr. Everts’ problem, he tells the truth too often.”  YES!  Put that on my tombstone:  He tells the truth too often.  And 2).  He loves his students too much.  A superintendent told a band parent, “Part of Paul’s problem is he loves his students too much.”  Yes!  Here is a teacher who loved his students too much.  Put that on my tombstone.

Lately, I have been thinking about the difference or even a difference between liberals and conservatives.  And here is one difference.

Liberals want to take care of you.

Me?  A moderate conservative (more libertarian):  I care about you.


Here is the quintessential example “take care of you” vs. “care about you” …

About eight years ago, I was the percussion manager for the top all-state honor band in California.  My job was to make sure the percussion section was behaved.  Knew their music.  Make sure the students had the instruments they need.

At one of the rehearsals, an all-state honor band percussionist was having a challenge tuning the timpani.  Timpani are those big drums and they are actually tuned to notes / pitches.  Well, he was having a difficult time.  This student was also having a difficult time understanding the conductor because English is his second language.

“Your tuning is off.  You are not playing the correct notes.  At home, how do you tune your timpani?” asks the all-state honor band conductor.

The student, again English is his second language, answers the conductor’s question, “I don’t have timpani at home.”

Well, that answer frustrated the conductor!

“That’s not what I meant!  I know you don’t have timpani in your home.  I mean at school.  At school.  How do you tune your timpani at school?”

“Well, I walk over to the marimba.  I hit the note on the marimba and then walk over to the timpani.”

The all-state honor band conductor is SHOCKED.

In a frustrated voice, “You don’t have a pitch pipe.  Tuning fork?  You are the timpanist in the top band in California and you don’t have either?  Well, you need one.  You better have either a pitch pipe or a tuning fork by tomorrow’s rehearsal.”

I am dumbfounded.

I am sitting in the back watching this entire event speechless.

Following this conversation, which was in front of the entire honor band and observers, a high school band director, who I know, comes up to me.

“Aren’t you the percussion manager?”

I looked at my ‘friend’ and answer, “Yes.”

“Well, aren’t you gonna go downstairs (to the exhibition) and buy him one?”

I thought to myself, ARE YOU REAL?!

“No.  That’s not my job.  I will tell him where to get one and how to get one.”

My ‘friend’ was shocked that I would not go downstairs and buy him one.

“Come on, Paul!  You need to get him.  You need to help him.”

“Watch.  He will have one by tomorrow and it will not be because I walked downstairs and bought him one.  And you know what?  He will be better for it.  He will learn how to solve his problem!”

My “friend” was PISSED!  He thought I was falling short of my job.  I wasn’t taking care of the student.

So, you know what happens …

The next day.  Who was the first one in the rehearsal hall working on his part with his new:  PITCH PIPE?!  I was so proud of him!  I went up to him and literally gave him a pat on the back and congratulated him for doing the right thing.

Here is the difference.

Liberals want to take care of you (us).

Conservatives care about you (us).

Huge difference!

I don’t “do” the answer.  I coach them to find the answer.  More and more of my students are becoming needier.  They don’t want to work to find the answer.  They don’t even want the responsibility in finding the answer.  Why would they want the responsibility in finding the answer, when the answer could be wrong and being wrong is – wrong?  Oppose to, being wrong is the beginning of eventually learning how to be right.

I want my liberal friends to really be weary of taking care of young people.  Taking care of young people is so different than caring about young people.  When “we” take care of young people, we inhibit their growth.  When we care about people, we want them to be able to take care of themselves.  Many students are not taking care of themselves.

We see an increase number of students with anxiety issues / depression.  I am “just” a high school band director, but part of the increase number of students with anxiety issues / depression is due to those students expecting to be taken care of.  So, we do.  We take care of them.  Oppose to helping them find the solutions to get through the anxiety issues / depression.

I believe in counselors.  I believe in therapy.  HOWEVER, my concern is the lack of counselors / therapists / psychiatrists / psychologists who are interested in getting those young people to be independent.

I want to walk into the high school Wellness Center with a sign saying:  OUR JOB IS TO HELP YOU DO YOUR JOB … NOT DO YOUR JOB.  Another sign?  OUR JOB IS FOR YOU NOT TO NEED US!  I am not seeing those signs.

Let’s care about our students.  Let’s allow them to “touch the hot stove” and feel the pain so they understand why touching the hot stove hurts.  By you removing their hand before they touch the hot stove, what do they learn?

ANSWER:  By you stopping them touching the “hot stove”, they learn you will take care of them / protect them and I don’t know if that is the lesson they should learn. 

After he touches the “hot stove,” me taking his hand and put it under cold water.  Give him a “hug.”  Wipe away his tears.  He knows I care about him and he learns what a “hot stove” will do to his hand.