A Tale of Two Realities of School

Every successful student knows the feeling.

To enter the arena of competition between content and student, the engaged learner prepares for it. The night before class the student completes the assignment and mentally rehearses the ideas to come.

The completed assignment is slid into its assigned spot, giving solace to the academic soul.

All is as it should be.

The next day the student enters the classroom  . . .

friends, enjoying the space called school.

When the teacher starts the class, the student reaches for the completed assignment and places it on the desk. There is no stress or concern, just execution and a small victory that feeds a desire to do it again tomorrow.

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Every unsuccessful student knows the feeling.

To enter the arena of competition between content and student, the disengaged learner prepares for it.

The night before the event the student mentally medicates by doing things that empower and give adrenaline to the body and mind, a Novocain for the coming discomfort.

An electronic screen is often a source of this solace. The backpack sits in the corner as a reminder of what is to come, but that is tomorrow and tonight there is freedom and control.

The next day the student enters the classroom . . .

friends, dreading the start of class.

The assignment is asked for and the student brings out an old assignment hoping it will suffice. When accountability comes, a flow of excuses and defensive phrases flow to protect the freshman and fight off the shame.

Push it away.

It’s not important.

Hold on for just a little while longer. The teacher will go away. She is gone. That wasn’t so bad.

Like a hand banging on a nail, the pain stops the next blow. For lack of a hammer, for lack of the tools and habits necessary to succeed in school, the student will avoid the task altogether.

The student goes home.

The backpack is thrown to a corner; it is powerless here. The student mentally medicates by doing things that empower and give adrenaline to the body and the mind, a Novocain for tomorrow’s discomfort. An electronic screen is often a source of solace.

There is no stress or concern at home in front of this screen, just execution and a small victory that feeds a desire to do it again tomorrow.