Daily Archives: October 3, 2011

Left behind or brought to a halt?

This was on my mind so I decided to throw some thoughts at this before I forgot to. I suppose I will get to the end of this and ask anyone reading this a couple of questions. Maybe it will cultivate some thoughts and actions to positively affect a situation you may be experiencing or are familiar with. Recently, I read some different blogs regarding the topic of schools and education. The question being written about was what would you do to change how schools work, or something to that effect.

I certainly don’t proclaim to have the answers but I certainly have some thoughts on this. When it comes to getting an education, I know there’s not supposed to be any child left behind and the goal is to improve the education students receive. Maybe the guidelines are loose or the outline for this program is unclear. I don’t know.

I do know that the quality of education being offered to our nation’s future is all over the board. Diversity in the classroom is great, the make up of the student population and the approach of the instructors can be very diverse and quite healthy. I have seen cases where one class aims at literally not leaving anyone behind and caters the instructional pace to those students that need the most help moving forward. Then at the other end of the spectrum there are classes run at top speed and either you get it or you don’t.

My question is where’s the American Spirit in all this? Did the USA become a country, that the rest of world envied for decades, by making sure nobody was left behind or by setting the bar high and doing everything it took to get there? I think the latter. There shouldn’t be a prize for able bodies and minds to simply participate, but for performing, for stretching, for growing, for exceeding, for being good at what you do and the list goes on. God bless the teachers we have throughout our country. I wish all of them had the salary, the benefits, and the passion that make it worth their while to show up to their job and provide for their families. I also wish that more of them played to win, and didn’t play not to lose. There’s an enormous difference and I am not blaming anyone here.

As a coach for many years, one thing I tried to live by, was to just give the kids a chance to succeed. Show them how it’s done correctly, ask for their understanding on how it’s done, practice the skill, continually encourage them, and then give them the chance to succeed. Time and time again the kids exceeded both their expectations and my own. This wasn’t because we brought practices to a screeching halt while this skill or that skill was being taught to someone struggling with it, but because we expected more, practiced correctly, and through tolerance for one another we all helped each other get stronger where we were weak.

There are kids in schools throughout our country that are either being left behind in the sense everyone else is running past them or; even more perhaps, that are being asked to learn at a slower pace than they are capable of. In the same breath, these kids, at either end of the equation, are good at something or many things. I use a line from time to time about how horses are meant to run, and to draw a parallel to this thought, why aren’t we teaching our kids to run? Can’t we teach them to stretch, to grow, to run, from a young age? Encourage them, let them know the things they do well, no matter how small, instill confidence and push them to new heights. They already know the things they don’t do well, they hear from everywhere, to the point that a lot of kids think they’re not good at things that they are just fine with because they’re not perfect. None of us are perfect but that’s a topic for another time.

Maybe the previous paragraph would be easier if we just took the time to do those things. In this age of now, now, now, it’s gotta be done now, I need it now, time is in short supply. Well if now was the time we deserved to get all we want, why does the old adage read, good things come to those who wait. Part of waiting is the passage of time, and what better way to pass time then to invest in our future. Kids are amazing! They are resilient. They are so smart and observant. They are brutally honest and if we take the time to ask questions and listen appropriately, they’ll tell us most everything we need to know. They have more answers than a lot of people give them credit for.

So are students you know being left behind? Are they being taught at a slower pace so that others can keep up? Is there something you can do to help the situation?