What do you believe?

Why is it that we believe certain things and not others? Why do we accept some things as true, real, legitimate, undeniable and others as false, disputable, invalid, questionable or doubtful? Every day we use and hear phrases like be certain of, be convinced of, have faith in, have no doubt, have the fate, put confidence in, etc. But where do beliefs come from. How are they actually born?

When we were kids, our beliefs were labelled as ‘false’; we believed in angels, fairies, ghosts, monsters and other fictional creatures. Ironically, it was the adults who convinced us of their existence. Have you ever asked yourself the question why our parents let us believe in all the unreal? I’m certain they knew how wonderful it feels to believe in the unbelievable, imaginary, supernatural…Perhaps they also knew, as we do now, that to believe means to feel safe, protected and alive, and that every time we lose our faith, we feel a little weaker.
When we grew older, our beliefs became more ‘real’ and diverse. This diversity of beliefs means that as adults we are attracted to people with the same opinions and sometimes avoid people whose points of view are diametrically opposed to ours. But we also influence each other and talk people into believing what we believe. Reciprocally, we allow ourselves to be convinced and persuaded. So what we finally believe is mostly the result of interaction and experience.

I’m a teacher and an educator. I have no doubt that to be able to make our students believe, we need to believe ourselves. There’s no point in pretending; our students will always sense our hypocrisy and they will, inevitably, lose their faith in us, teachers. What we believe is closely related to what our students are inclined to believe at the present time and what they are likely to believe in the future. Like their parents, friends and idols, we have the power to change their assumptions about the world and life in general. Why not grab the opportunity? Here is a list of my deepest and most passionate convictions, which unavoidably and undeniably affect my actions and consequently each student’s viewpoint:

I’m utterly convinced that if we believe

  • that our students try to do their best, they will do even better.
  • that our students can achieve things, they will manage.
  • that our students are creative, they will prove it.
  • that our students are endowed with many talents, they will show us.
  • that the time spent with our students is worthwhile, they will want us to be there.
  • that our students want to learn, they will ask for information and search for answers.
  • that our students want to improve, they will look for ways of making progress.
  • in our students’ dreams, they will want to make them happen.

Now I could now turn the positive statements into negative ones, such as if you don’t believe in your students’ dreams …. No, I won’t do it. This is neither a warning nor a list of dos and don’ts, and I’m not preaching; I’m trying to inspire and motivate. I’m trying to make you believe…

Inspired by What do you believe? Goal 19, 2010 cycle

About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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