I always grew up being told honesty is the best policy…Sometimes as an adult in charge of young humans, I struggle with where the limit is. Never in a rude or inappropriate way, but in the how many life-truths should I actually share.
Thus far in my experience teaching, the children have been…Not babied, but somewhat, sheltered? That is the best word I can come up with right now. There are students leaving the school after the twelfth grade believing that they have graduated with an honest diploma. Students receiving awards for honors who are not achieving grade level. Students being told that they are academically high achievers, yet cannot read at grade level or comprehend basic math operations.
This is the honesty I struggle with. I wonder what benefit these awards and compliments are doing to benefit these children when they finally enter the adult world. I think that I believe these things are setting them up for disappointment. I could be wrong.
In my school we use in Elementary a promote/place/retain system when the end of the year comes and we are deciding the changing of each students grade. Last year, I placed most of my students, none were promoted. This is because none of them were at grade level. The ones that I wanted to retain, I could not, because I had not received parental permission, because I was not able to reach any parents. As the new school year began, although I am now teaching a different grade, I heard through the grapevine that a few parents (across the board, not just from my class) were upset because “last year my kid got honors and this year they were just placed, not promoted, what the heck?” Well, as I often did, I had the conversation with myself that I DID do the right thing. I feel that there is no benefit in dishonesty, I wanted my students to be motivated to do their best, try their hardest, be their own competition.
I didn’t (don’t!) want them going through life believing that good enough is good enough.
That’s partly personal experience influencing that. It was until I was about 23, halfway through my Education degree, that I finally understood this. “C’s get degrees!!” my friends and I would joke. But I struggled, I was and am a smart woman (a little ditzy sometimes 😉 ) but I had a hard time with exams, a hard time sitting through 3 hour lectures at night after a full work day, a hard time studying…And finally, once I got into a pickle with school, I realized just how much I wanted what I wanted! I went to see a program counselor, buckled down, decreased my course load, and got my friends to back me up to help hold me accountable. It was only then that I saw my personal success and I finished my very last semester before graduation with my first, hard earned A+. I was so proud of myself.
I want that for my kids. My students. I want them to know that rush of getting what you deserve! In a positive way! I have one girl in my class who says to me almost every day, “Miss, I don’t know this. I can’t do this. I’m dumb. I’m too stupid.” And I reply, every day, with, “Sarah, you are not dumb, you are not stupid, you CAN do this, you’re just lazy.”
Therrre, we are….The honesty. Is it wrong for me to say that? It’s true! She is not the only student to holler for help before she has even looked at the question.
We recently had exam week and report cards. I no longer find myself surprised at what they don’t know. In grade 7, they did not know the rules of exams! They asked me if they needed to put their names and dates on them, could I help them, can they talk, etc…. I had to explain to them the concept of skipping questions if you didn’t know them to boost their marks. It was yet another foreign conversation to me.
I once overheard a student say to a friend, “I don’t care that I was late! Imma be a f***ing dropout homie!”….
Seriously? … You’re serious aren’t you! Your life goal is to be a Jr. High dropout!
How am I supposed to interact with people as a teacher when I can only assume that these kids are getting these attitudes from their parents. When families are aware of their child’s struggles in education and still does nothing, what am I supposed to do from there?
Is it more beneficial to be honest and say your child has been putting in no effort, never opens a book or lifts their pencil, is constantly extremely late, and doesn’t do the minimal amount of homework expected. They have earned a 0%. Or will it push them to better their future by lying; Congratulations! You weren’t AS late today! Because of that effort, I’ll see your 0% and match you an %80!
Because to me, that makes no sense. And I get curious about how things like this have been happening for so long. How has it happened that the majority of my grade 7 class is reading below a grade 4 level?
I bring it back to the point…Honesty? Or coddling lies?
If you know what’s best, drop me a line…