"(Students) are told that getting perfect grades leads to the perfect college, which leads to the perfect career, and that is supposed to lead to the perfect happiness."
The above quote comes from an article I just finished reading in the Philadelphia Inquirer about students and their pursuit of perfection. I found it a sobering article, and one I would like every parent to read.
The article deals with the pressures put on students (both external and self-imposed) to excel in everything they do; to constantly strive to be the absolute best of the best.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I have experienced kids feeling this pressure to be perfect in my years of teaching. I have seen students cry because a test score was "only" a 93, and I have had protracted discussions with parents about giving some partial credit to get a grade above 90.
Parents have moved their children from my class because I had a reputation for being hard, and they feared their students might not get an "A". And, of course since these students were all going to attend Harvard, a school with an undergraduate enrollment of only 6,700 or the even smaller Rice which has just 3,500 undergrads, A's were absolutely paramount! For the students the message was clear: how much learned is not that important as long as the grade is perfect.
The article Just remember: Nobody's perfect, along with its sidebar Advice for Perfectionists, was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer this past December 22nd. I think these two pieces should be required for everyone who is concerned with the highly competitive world of higher education.
Every student is not going to go to Harvard or Rice. Nor should they. In fact, for most areas of study there are colleges that are comparable or even better choices. And for most students there are definitely better choices, and these schools all want very good students who know how to achieve. But they also want real people, not automatons of perfection.
Please take the time to read the article and the sidebar. Perhaps you will gain a bit of a new perspective of the expectations you have for your student as the new semester begins.
About this Page
I have had a rewarding and complete classroom career teaching and coaching mathematics.
Variable Thinking is my way of sharing some of my ideas, tips, and savvy about education and student success with you.
I hope find the comments and articles interesting and useful to both you and your student.