Teaching the Fish to Swim

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!”

“You’re worthless.”

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’m stupid.”

“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…

Read more. 


  1. Jeff Nguyen on March 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    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.

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