Regardless of the service, these tough NCOs will immediately bring “scunion,” upon any young recruit or trainee that does something stupid, grossly incorrect, or even slightly out-of-line or insubordinate, all in the name of turning out capable, disciplined troops ready for duty anywhere in the world. I experienced this coming-of-age ritual when I was a young 18-year-old back in the summer of 1979. And, there were quite a few times when I was the target of my drill sergeant’s wrath. That man could unleash the “wrath of God” in a livid tirade that sometimes included profuse profanity, but even without the profanity, his words would spew forth with such violence that it felt like profanity. But, as noted, this stressful training has a necessary purpose of driving home the lessons of discipline, attention to detail, teamwork, toughness, and sacrifice. Moreover, the training teaches the recruits how to distinguish when they have given their best, tried their hardest, and reached the limits of their capabilities. They will learn as so many millions have learned throughout our country’s military training history the same common experience and the same commitment to duty, honor, and country.
Of course, my students will learn in a much more congenial environment. Some will have to work harder than others, but based on my assessment of their first papers, they all have the capacity to succeed. The only real determiner of their success from this point forward is how much effort they are willing to put in. I have never had a student fail who was earnestly trying his or her best. The ones who have failed my courses in the past have always gradually walked themselves into failure step-by-step by not responding to my markings on their papers, repeatedly making the same mistakes after they had been warned, failing to meet the clearly communicated standards and parameters of their assignments, missed classes repeatedly, come in classes late, etc. Basically, they failed to care, and every effort or lack of effort on their part spoke volumes about their apathy or laziness. Every student I have had that cared and earnestly tried for the most part has passed my classes.
This includes one student that I had in my first semester of teaching, whose writing was so bad on his first two papers that I almost cried, thinking to myself that there was no way that I could teach this student enough to pass my course. He had so many problems with his writing that I thought there must have been some mistake, some monumental screw-up in the admissions process that let slip through a young man who did not belong in any college, let alone West Point. But that young man responded to my critiques and came to see me in my office many times for tutoring. I developed special strategies to help him learn how to identify his bad writing habits that were resulting in errors. Then, by the end of the semester, he passed with a “gentleman’s C.” It almost seemed like a miracle, but he succeeded as a testament to both my skill as a teacher and his strength of character as a student, manifested in his willingness to work hard and to do absolutely whatever I told him to do.
I pray that God blesses you and your family with His loving, comforting presence in both your good times and bad.