So, Education and Dodgeball

To overly simplify for a second…there are two kind so of teachers in our education system. Teachers who love kids and want to teach them, who want to be a part of their learning process, and…teachers who want summers off. The second group doesn’t last very long because, as it turns out, teaching is really hard and largely unrewarded except for those few special moments of gratitude and recognition.

This is the problem with the first group though. They are attracted to teaching in our current education system because it worked for them. Rarely, if ever, do you encounter a teacher who wanted to teach because they hated school and found themselves not being taught in a method that worked for them. That is not to say that our current teachers are not striving to reach every kid in their classroom, but unfortunately they are not always succeeding. Children who are doing just fine, not excelling and not flunking, who don’t create chaos, they are ignored. Why spend extra on helping them achieve even more when they are fine, just fine.

Fine is the enemy of great. Fine is the enemy of success. Fine is the word all husbands dread hearing, because fine usually means not good enough. That is true in classrooms also. Fine isn’t failing perhaps, but it is also not good enough. We should want more for all of our children. I know I want more for my kids.

Dodgeball has been in the media lately. There are calls to remove it from schools. The argument is that it is barbaric and mean and kids can get hurt. The other side argues that “we did it, so how bad can it be?” and “you can’t have success in life without some struggle.”

Dodgeball is like the teacher thing, the people that want it to remain were good at it when they were in school, they were not the kids that were picked on and picked off when the game was played. Dodgeball is not a recipe for success in life, it is a mean game in which the athletically challenged are ruthlessly hit with balls. A secretary in a school recently told me that she writes up more accident reports during Dodgeball week then any other MONTH in the year.

Just in case you are wondering, I did great in Dodgeball, but I still don’t think this is the kind of teaching I want my kids to endure. I want them to learn that learning is tough, that sometimes perseverance and effort make up for talent, not always, but sometimes. I want them to see that striving for  excellence is worth it. You may not be better than Einstein at math, but you can learn it and do better than you are right now.

Isn’t that the point? Of school and life? To be better today than I was yesterday. Change is slow and it is hard and comes with effort and missteps, it need not come with a ball to the head.

I love when I hear and see stories about great teachers striving for the best for the kids they encounter. We need more of that. We need to start cheering for other’s success and not cheering only when we win.

In short, teachers are awesome and need more support and Dodgeball sucks, it sucks because it teaches the wrong lessons. It is not a recipe for success, only a recipe for more accident reports and lowered self esteem.

Just my thoughts on the matter.

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