Let failure be a learning experience
I recently read about the astonishing high number of students at Yazoo City High School who are in danger of not graduating this year.
As harsh at it may seem, I suggest that Yazoo City High School’s administration let the children fail.
At some point in life, parents and their children should learn and realize that special accommodations cannot and should not be made in every instance where a child fails to live up to his or her potential.
A Yazoo Herald article suggested that Yazoo City High School offered after school and weekend programs to assist the failing students to achieving the necessary qualifications for graduation. The school board also went to apartment complexes and handed out flyers explaining what was occurring and requesting parental intervention.
I do not know whether these acts are effective. What I do know is that every time a child is bailed out of a hard spot, the child becomes one step closer to developing an expectation of being bailed out of whatever issue they face. These children are destined to become dependent on a paternalistic system until the day that no one is willing to extend a helping hand. It is at that point that these children in extremis (or perhaps young adults) hit rock bottom and will finally be forced to make a personal decision to accept failure or to work to overcome the obstacles they face.
I am not one who believes that there shall never be cause for exception. In the cases where exception arises, the exception should be driven by proactive steps taken by the parents and the students, each requesting help before they reach the point of no return.
It should be the children and their parents who reach out to the school system with a mutually agreeable solution, instead of the school system expending resources to inform parents and students of a situation that they should already be aware of, having seen poor grades on tests and report cards.
The school system is charged with educating our youth to minimum standards. Parents should send their children to school ready to learn, already at or near the minimum standard. Parents and children should then strive to push the school to offer more complex and better course offerings. In this day and age there is no excuse for failure. Technology has made the answer to almost any question available by simply typing a plainly worded question into Google. Google is available at school, the library and on the cell phones in the possession of many youth. Through Google and YouTube, parents and students can find lessons on almost any subject.
Yazoo City High School, through the Class of 2013, can send a message to all classes that follow. That message shall be proclaimed as follows, “When you walk through these doors, come prepared to learn. We will do our best to teach you. We ask that you do your best to learn. If you are having problems, ask for help. If you do not timely ask for help, we will not hesitate to fail you. The responsibility to learn is upon both you and I.”
This year’s graduation should be held highlighting both those who graduate and those who fail. There should be a seat on the field for every student who was enrolled in the Class of 2013. If that student failed, his or her seat should be reserved and covered with a black sash. Their name should not be read aloud. Instead the announcer shall read, “Failed.”
Perhaps upon witnessing fifty empty chairs and hearing “failed” fifty times, the school board, parents and citizens alike will become motivated to do better next year.
One way to do better is to demand more of every student. Beginning in the younger grades, expose the children to a variety of experiences. Figure out how to incorporate field trips and interactive learning into the curriculum. Increase participation in extracurricular activities. Instill pride in participating in school sponsored activities.
Expose children to places different than the neighborhood they grow up in. Work with Parks and Recreation to provide year around recreation and positive mentors for children. Sports provide an excellent opportunity to develop team work and leadership skills. Teach well above the minimum.
While the child may not become proficient in every item that is taught, the student will become aware of a greater universe of knowledge. I’ve passed a many of tests, not because I was intimately familiar with the subject matter tested, but because I had a life experience that I could relate to the subject being tested. With more academic and life experiences in his or her bag, Yazoo City public school students may become better suited for success in school and in life.
Edd Peyton, Attorney, currently serving as a Rule of Law Field Force Officer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.