Heather Wolpert-Gawron

But what if the child does everything in their power to be “left behind?”

By on January 11, 2009

The Boston Globe is reporting that some students deliberately “shoot themselves in their own foot.”  Some of the reason is that trying hard is frightening.  Now, don’t get all uppity.  Let’s face it; even the most mature of adults may have postponed reaching for their dream out of the effort it might take to reach it or for fear of failure.  

That’s also how it is for many students.  What it takes to succeed is so scary, that they shut down. In addition, there are those students who worry that success will not be acceptable to their peers.  My father, for instance, hid his intelligence from his Bronx gang in the 1950s, feigning ignorance just to be accepted.  

As educators, we have a charge to help narrow that gap of students who are fearful to succeed.  We make our classroom a safe place to try, fail, and get up again.  We make it so damn engaging that the student has no choice but to participate, it would be uncool not to.  But as much as it is our job to reach out to students who seemingly don’t want the hand, it is equally irresponsible for a law such as NCLB to not acknowledge that there are many students, most of whom are males, who deliberately sabotage their own learning.  

Perhaps they don’t do the necessary practice to become adapt at a task.  Perhaps when faced with standardized tests they mark all “C” or form a pretty pattern in the bubbles. 

But I believe that true student success is an equation.  Parents + Student + School + Government.

I blog and discuss a lot about teacher, school, and government accountability.  I believe that mediocre teaching is not acceptable in this most important of professions.  But currently, student efforts do not figure into NCLB.  As such, a student’s own efforts are downplayed as a significant contributor to his or her own success.  By eliminating students in the equation of success, we are sending messages that can be misinterpreted:

If we don’t hold them accountable, they won’t have ownership in their own learning.

If we don’t hold them accountable, they might think their success has less to do with their efforts than with the efforts of others.

If we don’t hold them accountable, they won’t respect the work that others are putting in for them.

Education is like a new car.  If we just hand over the keys, a student won’t have as much ownership or respect for their vehicle than if they had been a part of its purchase. 

I am hoping that with an overhaul of NCLB comes a real recognition of the responsibility and accountability that each part of the equation has towards student success.  




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