2 minutes reading time (340 words)

School is not life

Some students do well in school and others do not. Have you ever wondered why?

We are all different! When my husband and I travel in areas where we are not familiar (and when we do not have our GPS to guide us), it is better for me to drive and him to navigate. When I try to read a map, I cannot tell you whether we need to turn right or left at the next intersection. I cannot take a two-dimensional representation of real space (the map) and change it in my mind to represent three-dimensional space (the world).

Fortunately, in school it was a rare occasion when I needed to be able to read a map and tell someone which way to go. Map skills are not that valuable in school.

On the other hand, I can read piano music very well. I can take a sheet of music and turn it into a beautiful experience on the piano for both you (the listener) and me (the player).

Unfortunately, being able to do that was not that helpful in school either. No one really cared that I could do that.

What if the thing I cannot do is read, spell, or do basic math calculations? Then, I become a struggling student. These skills are really important school skills and students who struggle with them struggle generally in school. School becomes uncomfortable, unsuccessful, and no fun.

For these students, it is important to find the thing they can do exceptionally well (like playing the piano or building models) and give them plenty of time doing that. If they spend their entire life struggling, it is hard for them to feel good about themselves.

They need to know that school is not life. Eventually, they will be finished with school and they will get to spend time doing things they do well rather than focusing on their weaknesses.

For an interesting perspective, I recommend reading some of Dr. Mel Levine’s work about focusing on the positive in your child’s life.

Options for Helping a Struggling Student
School Anxiety… Teacher Style

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#3 usethebrainsgodgiveyou 2012-03-07 12:28
I was a brainiac, and did school well, excelling in math and science. I was "scary smart". I am a housewife. Thought I had to be the best at everything and the world doesn't work that way.

My brother, on the other hand, was given a calculator in 4th grade and told to "use it". He barely made it to graduation, with a multitude of downslips to keep him company. He was told he should go to Tech as he wasn't "college material". He was so angry he went anyhow. He had the same GPA as me for his bachelors, went on to law school,, and passed the bar on the first try. As a successful lawyer, he's rolling in the bucks, and is material for the state's political hopefuls.

School is not life...it's also what you do with what you got. Sometimes tough times make for tough people, too.
#2 Livia McCoy 2010-09-14 01:22
I totally agree with you. It's just that in my 26 years teaching these struggling students I see so many of them "beaten down" by what they can't do. All their energy is used up with their struggles.

If we encourage them in areas where they excel, at least they have that to support them emotionally.

If possible, we need to use their strengths to help remediate their skill deficits.

Thank you for your comment! (from the author)
#1 kristina 2010-09-13 21:14
Yes, students need to spend time doing what they do well, but they also need to learn how to read spell and do basic math in order to be successful in life. Those skills carry over into every area. Avoidance isn't the answer, finding ways to help them learn and be successful with those skills is.

This is coming from a parent and a teacher.

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