What I Learned From My 7th Grade Science Teacher

“Pressure can burst pipes or it can make diamonds.” This quote that has really resonated with me this week.

Currently, I’m experiencing a time in my life where I’m feeling really challenged and under a great deal of pressure. While I won’t go into detail about the specifics, I want to share with you some of the reflections that I’ve had during this insightful time.

Here’s what I’ve learned: I’ve found that some of my best moments in life have been those when I’ve felt most challenged.

Let me share a story to demonstrate exactly what I mean.

My first pivotal experience of feeling pressure began in 7th grade science class.

My teacher, Mr. Shaw, not only taught me but he also taught my parents when they were in school.

He was a veteran teacher and captain of his own ship in every sense of the word.

For the average 7th grader, most priorities in life included recess, video games and what was playing at the movies that weekend.

strict educationScience wasn’t a priority unless it involved rockets or blowing something up. The goal for any 7th grader was to get the easy teachers – the ones who gave the least amount of homework.

However, my life was about to change when I found out that Mr. Shaw had HIGHER EXPECTATIONS for me and those attending Indian Lake Middle School.

You see, Mr. Shaw had been teaching long enough that he knew 7th graders – even better than we knew ourselves.

He had a reputation…he was hard, stern and was committed to push us higher than anyone in our entire lives ever had.


At the time, I equated his methods to being mean, terrible and something that should be outlawed altogether.

I complained to my friends.

I shared my displeasure with other teachers.

I even told my parents that I wanted to skip school on test days.

I can still remember the first day of class and listening to him explain the rules in a very clear and direct way. “If you do the work, you will pass. If you don’t, you will fail.”

Also, he had a chart on the wall listing everyone’s name and little squares where every grade from every test would be posted publicly.

He was a big believer in accountability and thought that by posting our grades for others to see, that this pressure might just push us to try harder and do better.


While Mr. Shaw was difficult, I credit him and the pressure of 7th grade science to much of the work ethics and success I experience today.

Instead of complaining about people or projects that push you – reach out and thank the people who challenge you to be better.

Thank you Mr. Shaw and everyone else in my life that pushed me to do better.

P.S. This is a very exciting week for a very important family member in my life – my Mom. Over the past year, she has been working to publish her first book, “How to Rock the World When You’ve Been Rocked.” The book is packed full of great tips and advice when it comes to dealing with stress, wellness and how to navigate real life events like lawsuits, divorce and the challenges of running a business and having a family. She created a website with more details about the book and even a free chapter you can download at www.sharyduff.com.

This Sunday she is hosting a live book signing at the Holland Theater in Bellefontaine from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM. There will be plenty of books for sale and you can check out the details and RSVP here.

Thanks Mom for being such a great mentor and congratulations on your new book!

Your marketing guy,

Jason Duff

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