Home > News and politics > If You Challenge Them, They will Learn

If You Challenge Them, They will Learn

Recently a New Jersey school administrator challenged his 700 kindergarten through eighth grade students that if they read 10,000 books by a certain time he would camp overnight on their school, with a "HP" – for Harrington Park school – shaved in his hair.

Few teachers challenged me – and many other students – when I was growing up through school. Fortunately one teacher – my own mother – did. I already would’ve been a prime candidate for ADD or ADHD – which I believe in like the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause (they all have some basis of truth, but little more) – because I had to find ways to challenge myself, even if that was upstaging the teacher regarding something I knew more about than they did.

Today things seem worse. With so many restrictions on what can be taught and how, and far too many people worried about students’ self esteem – often times people that have no ties to any particular schools. The result is poor teaching, and teachers can’t easily challenge students individually, lest they hurt someone else’s self esteem. Frankly, I’d rather have a modest child than a stupid child, but I know I won’t have to worry because we will educate and challenge our kids a well.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve heard so many people – especially while attending college myself – that stated they’d just teach if their dumb choice of a major (like History, the choice of many a college drunk and jocks – who are often the same people) wouldn’t land them some super fantastic job. You know, like The Librarian – there’s just such a high demand for cool, adventurous jobs. Teaching shouldn’t be a fallback, because those falling back to teaching are only hurting all our future. And don’t even get me started on allowing people to teach because they’ve been in a particular industry for 5 years.

It’s when I see stories like that which prompted this rant that I have some hope that there are still good teachers out there – even good administrators to support those teachers – who still know how to challenge kids, because the vast majority of them I believe will rise to the opportunity. Most kids love challenges of various degrees. Why is it that teaching through games is so popular? Games challenge. Failing a challenge may hurt a little and a little self esteem is good, but what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger and this country is already heading toward becoming the dweeb that is easy to bully.

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