Are We Breeding Mediocrity in Students?

I tell my students that I will not do the work that they can and should do on their own.  If I am working harder than my students, that’s a problem.  On the other hand, students expect study guides, and, in some cases, sample replicas of the test they will take.  When I was a student, the teacher said, “Study Chapters 10-12 for a test.”  We figured out what to do and how to do it.  No study guides. No practice tests. No crib sheets.  No nothing.

I was raised to be independent, think for myself, and approach and solve problems creatively. I also had chores.

At a point in my career, I had to tell a student that her work was sloppy.  I also told her that I was finished correcting the same mistakes on her work over and again.  I spent 20 minutes correcting a script she wrote.  It was poorly-written: lots of errors in grammar, spelling, and verb conjugation, awkward phrasing, and lack of precision in translating from English to Spanish.  I explained to the student in question that my words weren’t meant to hurt her feelings.  Additionally, she needed to know that her work was sub-par, didn’t meet expectation, and needed to step up the work quality and effort.

I think it is important to be respectful, albeit honest and direct, with students.  I strive to maintain their dignity.  That said, blowing sunshine in their face doesn’t help them; it only permits them to be mediocre.

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