Parable #43: Students Should Get Paid for Going to School

    A Parable by Donald Lee

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    (This week is the 46th installment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons Aout Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about doing what you love. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)

    Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.

    RUMI(Thirteenth-century Persianpoet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufimystic)

    “Why don’t students get paid to go to school? We do all the work. You teachers don’t do anything and you get paid.”

    It was Mary’s voice. You could pick it out several classrooms away. It was unmistakably loud and grating, with a mixture of feigned self-righteousness and imagined victimhood. Mary had spent a couple years in band before dropping out. Her contribution was entirely negative. Now that she was in grade ten, I had blissfully managed to avoid her for most of the previous two years. Fortunately for me, it was another teacher’s turn to be Mary’s victim.

     “If you want to go to university for four years and get your degree, you can get paid too,” was Miss Smith’s reply.

    True, but a poor line of reasoning, I thought. Discretion seemed not to be part of my sense of valor that day, so instead of wisely walking the other way, I stuck my busybody nose into the matter.

    “Mary, does the unpaid work you do at school seem unfair to you?” I baited her.

    “Yea, we should get paid,” she said aggressively.

    “You may be right. If your work has value, and you’re providing others with useful products or services, you should be compensated. If you really think that’s the case, you should leave school and go somewhere your time and effort will be rewarded.”

    Mary’s mouth dropped almost to the floor, and she was momentarily without words.

    “But on the other hand, if you realize that the work you do in school has no value to anyone but yourself; that education is a privilege others have purchased for you and you receive completely free; that your life will be infinitely better if you make the most of this free gift by acquiring all the knowledge and skills your mind will hold; and if you are willing to admit that you don’t believe anything of what you’ve said and this whole charade is just another one of your excuses to do nothing, noisily—then be quiet and do your schoolwork.”

    The shock and awe were too much for even Mary’s quick mouth. So while she was still reeling from that barrage, I took a breath and kept going.

     “If you really want a diploma, you could easily do it in half the time by taking all your courses online. You should quit school, finish your diploma online, and get on with your life—doing what you really want to do.

    Unlike Mary, I didn’t want to argue. I just wanted to lecture, so I beat it out of there before Mary had a chance to compose a counterattack.


    I was a bit brutal with Mary, but none of us wants to waste our time. Time is life. Often, we struggle to find our way in the world—what job, career, profession, trade, or business to take up. Who to marry. Where to live. We have so many options it’s hard to know which path to take. As we reflect on our lives, maybe it’s time for some redirection. Where do we really want to go in our life? What do we really want to do with our time?

    There is nothing we have to do, but we have to do something. As we reflect and redirect, remember that, like Mary, we always have options. We can change anything we want to change in our lives. It just takes a decision and courage.

    Our general purpose in life is to learn to love. We can do that anywhere—even right where we are now. Bloom where you’re planted, as the saying goes.

    Each of us has a specific purpose—the reason we came here. That’s often what we’re struggling to figure out. I think God is always quietly nudging us in the direction that’s right for us. We need to regularly still our minds and bodies to listen to the spirit within.

    Do what makes your heart sing. Do what you’re good at. Avoid things that kill your spirit. Remember, we’re here to help others. That’s how we make a living and a life. We humans try to use our minds to figure things out but our hearts are a better guide to figure out our spiritual purpose. Listen to your heart, follow where it leads, help others in the process, and everything will work out just fine.

    To find your spiritual purpose in life, listen to the Divine voice within and do what makes your heart sing.

    Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website:, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.

    Resonance Costa Rica
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