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A Motivating Influence Essay

Life is a cycle of learning in which we learn every day by experiences, anecdotes or by someone else. Now, it is hard to find a person who really cares about us or at least someone who wants to help us to succeed in the future. However, we found that there are some special teachers that are a great example of learning how to succeed in life. In the two stories of “my favorite teacher” by Thomas L. Friedman, and “Unforgettable Miss Bessie” by Carl T. Rowan, we find two incomparable persons who made a change in their students’ life. They both were a motivating influence for their students. Carl Rowan’s teacher Miss Bessie and Thomas Friedman’s teacher Hattie Steinberg are different in background, but similar in their wisdom, enthusiasm, love and care for their students.

First, we find that both teachers, Miss Bessie and Miss Hattie had wisdom. They both introduced their students to knowledge that they otherwise might not been exposed to. In Thomas Friedman’s teacher, Hattie taught Friedman a lesson that lasted throughout his life. Hattie was a journalism teacher who tries to teach her students about the ethical rules for being a journalist. She had high standards of teaching, and it leads a mark in her students. Friedman’s writes: “Hattie was a woman who believed that the secret of success in life was getting the fundamentals right” (403). This basic lesson about excellence in journalism was important to Friedman’s career, because he becomes a journalist, and he remembered decades after his High School days with Hattie. This shows that Hattie was a wise teacher because it influences Friedman’s life forever.

On the other hand, Miss Bessie’s wisdom was impacting for Rowan. She was a writing teacher who loves to read and write. However, even when in those days the racism took place in the country between white and black people, and she was a black teacher, she had the pasion to impact her students’ life. Rowan writes one of Miss Bessie’s lessons: “If you do not read you cannot write, and if you cannot write, you might as well stop dreaming” (166). This showed Rowan how important her students’ future was for Miss Bessie. She tried to make the reading and writing a commandment for her students. Her wisdom and influence left a mark in her students’ heart that it will be not only for them but for their generations.

Second, both teachers, Miss Bessie and Miss Hattie were similar in their enthusiasm at the moment of giving advice to their students. Rowan describes Miss Bessie as tough, no-nonsense woman who could convince her students to do anything. In one occasion Rowan and Miss Bessie were talking about Rowan’s interest on sports and how hard it was for him to read a book. But he wanted to be with his friends and continue to be respect by them. So he writes: “Boy, she responded, you will play football because you have guts” (164). This impacted Rowan’s life forever. He learned to have the courage to fight for what he wanted in his life, and never give up, even when it seems difficult to reach. Similarly, Friedman’s teacher, Hattie Steinberg pushed her students to achieve high standards and to be responsible in their work, and to be well educated.

Friedman writes: “and, boy, she pounded the fundamentals of journalism into her students –not simply how to write a lead or accurately transcribe a quote, but more important, how to comport yourself in a professional way and to always do quality work” (403). The purpose of Steinberg was to make her students work as if they were already working in a journalism company. She wanted her students to be ethical and professional in whatever they do. She knew it was going to be a great lecture for them. It would make them successful persons in their work and their lives. Third, Rowan and Friedman’s teachers were from different backgrounds. Rowan’s teacher, Miss Bessie, she was from black race, lower class family and she could not afford her education as a teacher. Rowan did not know about her background until she talked about it before she died.

He writes: “What you put in your head, boy, she once said, can never be pulled out by the Ku Klux Klan, the Congress, or anybody” (165). This shows that even though Miss Bessie was from a lower class, she would never like her students to suffer the same problems she faced before. After long time, Rowan admired her because of her courage to succeed in life, and her courage to be someone else with a better quality of life. In contrast, Miss Hattie was from a better economic class, she was white, and her education standards where a big help in her career.

Friedman writes: “I grew up in a small suburb of Minneapolis, and Hattie was the legendary journalism teacher at St. Louis park High School, Room 313” (403). We can say that Hattie took advantages of the opportunity she had to learn, and become one of the best teachers of journalism in the city even though we do not have evidence in the story if she was from a middle class economically. Hattie was admired for her high standards of teaching and it was the most important characteristics Friedman saw on her, that serve him as an example to become an ethical person in the journalism field.

In conclusion, these two extraordinary teachers make a difference on their students’ lives with their wisdom, enthusiasm, love, and care. And, as a result of their effort for making professional and ethical persons of their students, both Rowan and Friedman become great professionals with more than an ethical personality, but both being conscientious to recognize that their successful lives are thanks to those teachers who gave them advices during the process of formation as adults in the school. However, this is the time for us as students to think about someone, not necessarily a teacher, but someone who impact our lives during our formation as adults. Even when many people think that they have an unsuccessful life, there is still time to make a change in their lives. Instead of thinking what you have made wrong in life, think of the opportunities you have to repair your mistakes and move forward to become a successful person.


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