For Christmas, I gave my daughter the book “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” (http://www.therebelution.com/book). She shared with me the book’s philosophy that often society does not expect much from our youth and that in response, youth often meet that lowered expectation. I thought of the thousands of teachers that we work with each year with our writing and art contests.
Many times I will receive a packet of poems or view images of art that have been submitted by a teacher and my first thoughts are “Get a new teacher.” When an entire class of high school students enter poems equivalent to “a cat sat on a bat” or enter art with crayons on lined paper, I know that it is not the students who are failing, but the teacher. Raise the bar and students rise to meet the expectation. When we expect little, we receive little.
My students go to a charter school that has a curriculum that is always one grade above the norm. In 1st grade they are taught 2nd grade math and writing and this continues like this to 8th grade. At first my reaction was that will just frustrate the student. But I found that when expectations rise, the quality of the student rises to the expectation. I have taught at the university level for 30 years. During that time I have taught the same classes at the high school and middle school level. When I say the same classes, I really mean the exact same content. For both my university students and my 7th/ 8th grade students, I teach them difficult concepts, and in both classes they master them.
My challenge to parents and teachers is to higher your expectations. The youth of today are capable of great achievements. The book “Do Hard Things” is written by two teenagers. These are kids who want the challenge. In working with your students or even your own children, raise the bar, create a challenge and you may find it more rewarding for them and you when they “Do Hard Things”.