Let’s Treat Our Students As If They Are Smart

I’ve been bothered lately by the number of people (teachers included) who seem to be convinced that our children are stupid.  I hear, repeatedly, that we shouldn’t hold our students accountable for their behavior, their homework, their ability, because it’s just too hard.  For instance, I have seen many articles claiming we shouldn’t assign homework simply because students don’t do it.  While I’m happy to listen to reasons not to assign homework (although, personally, I think it’s a valuable tool for many reasons), that should NOT be one of them.  Does a basketball coach say “well, you don’t dribble, so just carry the ball down the court”?  Of course not.  If a player doesn’t possess a skill, or is unwilling to use it, the coach works harder on that very skill.

We should be holding our students to high standards.  They are very capable of coming up to the level we set.  I think it’s very insulting to our children when we lower the standards.  They should be outraged.  We have smart children and they should be treated as if they are smart.  No more giving them a good grade because we don’t want them to feel bad about themselves.  Instead, let’s hold them accountable so that when they do get that good grade, they feel pride in knowing they earned the grade.

Above my classroom door, I have this sign:

The sign above my classroom door.

I saw a version of this on Pinterest.com and thought it expressed my sentiments exactly.  It’s not just a nice sign above the door, I truly believe it.  I fully expect that my students will learn and achieve and I plan to challenge them all year long.  Too many teachers claim to have the students’ best interests at heart, but are holding them back by expecting too little.  I took a class for my master’s degree that involved large amounts of reading and several papers each week.  That professor held us to a very high standard.  My first few papers received very low (for me) grades.  The challenge of writing to his expectations was tough, but I was never prouder of a good grade than I was of that one.  He could have given me good grades along the way, but, instead, he challenged me to think deeper, write better and learn more.

We should all challenge our children to be more, do more and learn more.  I plan to in my classroom.  Who’s with me?


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