While writing is my passion, it doesn’t pay the bills. Perhaps one day. Until then, I’m still going to enjoy teaching. I absolutely love being a teacher. I enjoy youth and learning and the subjects I teach. I dragged myself through the summer with a few more dents and scars but I survived another and being back to work feels great.
This year I am really going to focus on helping students really try to find motivation and drive to improve not only in the classroom but in their lives. Too many kids graduate high school completely unprepared to deal with anything outside of their controlled and heavily supported environment. We coddle too many kids and prop them up and drag them across the finish line only to let them collapse on the track when they should really be getting started on a much larger challenge.
We are setting babies loose in the world and expecting them to succeed but didn’t bother weening them and helping them feed themselves before we do so. So they starve and look for sustenance anywhere they can get it and often times they feed themselves junk.
So this year I’m going to try to build some adventurers who can handle themselves in the wild.
I had this thought while ranting on the first day of school, something I do frequently. I was talking about being realistic about where students are with regards to their study habits. Most kids believe they are good students even if they failed a class. There’s something wrong with that. Even though I got good grades in high school, I was not a good student. I stated that we should have a belt system like martial arts does. Everyone starts off as a white belt and everyone in the school knows that person is new to martial arts and they seek to teach them things that help them advance based on that level. In the military we wear rank on your collar or sleeve so everyone can see the achievements of that soldier and how high they are in the military hierarchy. In schools we hide achievement.
The result is that most students believe they are doing fine. Plus we’ve become hyper focused on self esteem and building students up. So they seem like they are really confident and that they feel great about themselves but the problem is, there is no reason for them to feel so good about themselves. They often times haven’t accomplished anything and they have nothing to defend their confidence so when it is challenged they fall even farther.
If you bully a person who has accomplished many things and is able to defend their achievements, that person is less likely to actually feel bad. I know for me, when someone criticizes me and I know they are wrong, it doesn’t bother me in the least. But if you get criticized and there is nothing to defend yourself, you crumble. It would be like putting on the black belt without earning it and the first time you spar your get your butt kicked. You didn’t earn the belt. When you lost it felt bad and your couldn’t defend the belt. The loss hurts deeply.
So rather than building paper tigers who think they are great but in reality can’t defend their confidence and have no real achievements to support their esteem, I’m going to try to help students be realistic about where they are and how they can improve. There’s nothing wrong with being a white belt when you start, or a private in the military. But growth is important and knowing where you are and how to improve is fundamental to successful life.