Written Communication Skills
September 23, 2003
Analysis of the song “Thank you Mr. Ryan”
I am going to summarize a song I heard in class entitled “Thank you Mr. Ryan.” The song is about a man who fondly remembered his teacher, Mr. Ryan, singing songs to his students. The song that stood out most in his mind as he grew up was “All My Trials.” He went home to visit his parents and asked about Mr. Ryan. His mother told him that Mr. Ryan still taught at the same school, so he quickly went to visit him. He chatted with Mr. Ryan for a while and then Mr. Ryan confessed to him that his visit was uplifting and came at the right time. Mr. Ryan explained that he had just had a conversation with his own mother about being content with his life but at times he felt unfulfilled due to his never marrying or having any children of his own. Mr. Ryan’s mother reminded him that his students were in fact his children. Indeed, his former student’s visit that day confirmed it.
My interpretation of the song “Thank you Mr. Ryan” is that the author wants people to be aware of the effects their actions have on others. You never know how what you say or do can influence another person for the rest of their life. If we live by the golden rule: “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” we should strive to have a positive influence on others. We should never neglect to thank the people in our life that have helped us get through trials, adversities or even enhanced the good times. It is not uncommon for a role model to be your mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, a family member or even a close friend. Mr. Ryan, seemed to have just been a good person and teacher and was unaware of the impact that his form of teaching had on his students. The visit of his former student helped him feel validated, helping him feel that his life meant something to others. We all go through times in our life when we need a “pick-me-up” and we should be willing to extend those “pick-me-ups” to others.
When I initially heard the song, it didn’t quite capture my undivided attention. The music was boring and his voice was too monotone. In order to focus on the lyrics, I had to discipline myself so I wouldn’t become easily distracted by other things that were going on in the classroom. Perhaps if the author had used words that rhymed, this would help to serve as an attention-getter and memory aid. Once I focused in on the lyrics, I did enjoy the song because it reminded me of my elementary through high school days. The classes I enjoyed most, were the ones where the teachers used untraditional methods of teaching like Mr. Ryan.
4. Personal Meaning
When I read the lyrics in the course materials, I really could relate because I have several people that served as my Tree of Life through my many trials of life. One that I would like to mention is an attorney that I worked for back in 1986; his name was Emil Berg. Mr. Berg was one of the nicest, kindest men that I had ever met. He was a pleasure to work for. In fact, when I would say that I worked for him, he would always correct me and say that we worked with each other; that was such a humble attitude to me as a young employee. Ever since then, I always try to seek employment where the people I work directly with are not “ego-tripping” and have that team spirit. I in turn, try to treat others the same way--whether it’s a co-worker, a student, janitor, etc.
Mr. Berg was a hard-working man although he believed in putting family first and work second. Whenever we would have to scratch a project no matter how close we were to completing it, he would always recite the words his father used to tell him:
If a job has once begun,
Never leave it til it’s done.
Be it great or be it small,
Do it well or not at all!
He died of a heart attack in 1988, at the age of 61. I still greatly miss him and can hear his words echoing in my mind to this day. Those simple words have impacted me through my adult life. I reflect on that attitude in my home, at work and even while taking college courses. While I’m not a perfectionist, I strive to do the best I can in all things.
In addition, the song “Thank you Mr. Ryan” will hold a special place in my mind because my college major is Elementary Education and it is a reminder to do things that will influence my students in a positive way during their childhood and adult life.