I just finished reading two online articles about decisions that were made by educational administrators in regards to their school or school systems. I am not going into where they are because that is really irrelevant to my point. It just seems to me that our public educational system for primary and secondary education is moving in the wrong direction. It appears that they are moving toward the acceptance of mediocrity when it comes to educating our children. I addressed some of this in “A Nation in Crisis” a couple of weeks ago. What I saw in the articles I read today continues to demonstrate this same attitude by our educators. I believe that these decisions also serve to demotivate the student body as a whole.
The first article I read dealt with “Honors Night”, a time that those students that have applied themselves and exceeded in doing so are recognized for this achievement. The principal of the schools has decided not to have Honors Night anymore. The reason stated is that it “can be devastating to a child whom has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but whom, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point average”. This principal went on to say he made the change “because academic success can be influenced by the amount of support a student receives at home and not all students receive the same level of emotional and academic support”. Maybe these educators should understand that by recognizing these high achievers as they should that they will not only continue to motivate them, but will motivate others to follow in their steps. Maybe they should look at people like Doctor Ben Carson or Howard Schultz. They both started from humble beginnings yet they were able to ultimately reach their goals in life. They applied themselves to the task at hand. They used their talents, mental or physical, to the best of their ability. They were recognized for these things and became more motivated. They succeeded and others have too. There are a multitude of stories like theirs.
After some contemplation I came to the conclusion that what was being suggested was simply a way to marginalize success instead of maximizing it. Following this path fails to recognize students, some of which may not have had all that much “emotional and academic support”, for what they were able to accomplish. Let me try to draw a correlation using sports instead of academics. What would happen if the Olympics decided to not give out any medals? What if they simply told the athletes to come to the Olympics and do their best? What if when the event was over it was simply over? No one stood on a podium; no one got a medal. How many records do you think we would see? Another view might be that if you attend the Olympics you automatically get a gold medal, doesn’t matter if your performance is the best, mediocre or a complete failure. I know of some youth sporting events that are doing this today. Everybody wins. Where is the motivation in doing your best? What is the driving force that will make a person do their best?
As for the devastation I am going to tell on myself. When I was in high school I failed a class. It was not the fault of the school, the teacher or my parents, it was my fault. It was not my favorite subject so I simply did not apply myself. I figured that I would just try to scrape by and get a “D”. Well sometimes when you plan to just scrape by you are walking a tight rope. I discovered that when I got an “F” in the class. I missed my D by about .2 points, but I missed it. So I had to do two things, the first was to tell my parents, which was the biggest deal; needless to say they were not happy with my performance. The second was to take the class over in summer school. I made an “A” in summer school because I was more motivated. It was not devastating. Neither was seeing my classmates out playing and the like while I was leaving to go to summer school. Neither was the bit of ribbing that I took over it. Had I done my best and still failed it would have been the same thing. All of us were looking at the same bar; we all had an equal chance to reach it. I had no problem with those that did better than I did, those that were recognized for their scholastic achievements. After my failure I did well in all of my classes, getting consistently higher grades. My failure was a wake-up call. It was a positive motivator for me and continues to be one today.
The second article dealt with a school district banning students handing out party invitations. The rationale behind this educator’s decision is the “someone might get their feelings hurt”. Getting ones feelings hurt is just part of growing up. It happens and you learn from it. It happened to everyone that I knew growing up. Something happened or someone said something and someone got their feeling hurt and that was that. Maybe as a result of the action you decided that you didn’t like that person anymore or that you would not play with them anymore. Maybe you both decided to fight it out. In the end it was over, you were still friends or you were not. Either way we all just moved on. It appears that instead of teaching students reading, writing, math and science that our educational system is also trying to shelter them for the interpersonal skills and lessons to be learned as a child, lessons and skills that will help carry them through the real word as an adult.
In looking at this from another perspective an article appearing in the New York Times a few years ago stated that “the United States does a good job enrolling teenagers in college, but only half of students who enroll end up with a bachelor’s degree.” In this article it was stated that part of this problem rest with the colleges, but much of it also rest with the secondary schools not preparing the students. I believe that schools not setting the bar high enough and not recognizing academic achievements are part of the problem. I also believe that the failure to allow students to have feelings, both good and bad exacerbates the issues. The educational process should allow a student to grow in all areas of their lives. These include mentally, spiritually, personally and physically. I also believe that no student is a failure who applies themselves and does their very best.
As much as this may come as a surprise to some people the real world does not shelter you from anything. Every day there are winners and losers. Everyone cannot play football or baseball. Everyone cannot play music or sing. Everyone cannot be the CEO of a company or run their own business. However, everyone can be successful, because success should be measured on a personal level against what you want to do. It does not matter if you are a ditch digger or a president. Set goals and apply yourself to reaching them. Be the best at what you do. Doing so will allow you to reach you goals and be successful in what you want to do.
Hope you have a SUPER Day!! Life is a journey, may God bless you each step of the way!!