Wow, what a heavy article. Unfortunately this is nothing new to many of us up here in Alaska. One benefit of being in Alaska though is that people seem more used to the depression that comes, and while this is definitely not a good thing, in many cases it does ease people up to talk about it. In the article, Pennface and Duck syndrome and other such coping mechanisms where we pretend nothing is wrong does paint a picture of many places and people, and while there is definitely an element of that here, there is also an openness that allows us to talk to each other about what is really going on below the surface.
For our students, it is probably even more pronounced, many of them having lived here their whole life. Suicide seems generational and especially out in the villages, but truly everywhere, the rate has been steadily increasing. The sense of hopelessness and uselessness that accompanies academic and technological stagnation is staggering. I see it with my little brother’s generation as well as my own, the lack of needing to do anything to survive instills this sense of uselessness and makes it harder to find the purpose.
As teachers we are instrumental in our student’s lives. We can’t make them do anything, but we can encourage them to find hobbies and reconsider the sense of purpose. Personally, I believe our purpose is what we make it, and primarily should be to enjoy life and where we are. We can help the kids find this purpose and instill the idea that they don’t need to be the best at their chosen fields, rather to find a field that they like and want to do. Every person is extremely complex, but needs to find at least one thing they can call their own, or a topic that they want to pursue.
Ahh, the complexities of life and wants and purpose. Who truly knows the answer. All we can do is listen, react, adapt, and let the students know that we are in their corner, no matter what happens. Let the care shine through…