March 11, 2013
Teaching the Fish to Swim
I remember it like it was yesterday.
A bold, bright, red “F” scrawled hauntingly on top of my test paper.
The shame and horror burned its way through my heart to the bedrock of my being and began to pour a toxic foundation of lies.
“You’re so dumb.”
“You won’t amount to anything!”
It was my freshman year of college. I was majoring in biology in a pre-medicine track at the time. And I was failing.
Thankfully, I had enough years of successful schooling under my belt to question the lies taking root in my soul. I was also lucky enough to be at a small college where my professors quickly caught on and confirmed that no, my struggles in my pre-med classes were not due to lack of intelligence. I was simply gifted in other areas.
I see that same look of shame and horror I had when I received my “F” on the faces of kids every week when they walk in to our after school program – BLAST. The toxic lies painted across their cheeks and drawing shadows around their eyes. Some of them have engaged the lies so fully that they even speak it to themselves:
“I can’t do this.”
And why wouldn’t they believe it? In most cases, society has written them off completely before they even reach the third grade…
I have seen this up close in the elementary schools where children are called Level 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, etc. No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top has done more to permanently scar children and alienate them from learning than any other initiative I can think of. Thanks for sharing your perspective.