Saturday, October 1, 2016

Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

       Schools, educators, teachers...they are never satisfied.  We are the ultimate Olympic athletes when it comes to our desire to constantly improve.  In education, "Good Enough" is never good enough.

       While it is often true--though not in all schools--that most students do fine; most students learn to read pretty well, most students move on to the next grade, most students graduate.  There are always some students that don't or that struggle to reach these accomplishments.  And even for those that do succeed, What is our standard for success?  Is it a passing grade?  Is it to barely exceed the minimum?  Is it to be merely good enough?

       The best teachers are constantly striving to find ways to reach all of their students.  The students that do what they are told and are able to "succeed" in school without much effort should be pushed to do more.  The students who always excel academically should be pushed to do more.  And the students that struggle to meet the minimum requirements should be given the help they need to do better.  All students can do better; all teachers can improve; all schools can strive for better results.

       The goal of school is learning.  But students approach this goal from many different viewpoints.  Some strive to be "Number 1"; some do their best everyday and accept that they may be stronger in some areas than in other areas; some students struggle in math but are good at reading; some students seem to struggle in all academic subjects but are talented in the arts.  And some students have been beaten down so often by their schooling experience that they have given up on trying.  All of these people come together in the typical public school and it is the job of the educators to more all of them forward.

       It is hard to have one policy or one standard that applies to everyone when "everyone" is so different.  Maybe the goal shouldn't be to reach a standard as much as it should be to improve based on whatever your starting point is.  If you come to 7th grade able to run a mile in 9 minutes and 36 seconds, maybe you should strive to end 7th grade with a time of 9 minutes flat or 8:30.  Similarly, if you begin 7th grade with a reading ability that is considered "average", may you should strive to end the school year above average in reading.  And if you are a teacher who always struggled to help those students who always want to sit in the back of the classroom and never participate, maybe you want to have the goal to encourage them to answer questions and to offer their ideas at least twice in every class.

       The goal isn't to be Number 1; the goal isn't to "win".  School is not a competition.  The goal is always to improve regardless of your starting point.  Nobody should accept "Good Enough" as good enough.

Public Schools and Choice

       Is it true that public school kids and their public school parents don't have choices?  I'm sure that I will expose my igno...

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