We need schools that recognize failure as being as much a matter of how well one fits into a prescribed system than how well one understands, well, much of anything really.
And kids know we are blowing smoke when we give lip-service to how everyone should think outside-the-box and then we hand them a box and tell them that everything they've learned should fit back into it. And when they leave things outside-the-box we define them as failures.
We do this at our increased peril.
Because we are all failures of one sort or another. And though we like to focus on what we consider positive, it is more often the case that we live in a world comprised of systems of struggle and unanswerable questions. And we fail on a regular basis. And we need students who understand how to fail.
And we know this, yet we continue to punish students who fail -- as though our invented system of textbooks and number-two pencils were a better predictor of intellectual and creative capacity than life itself.
I wonder if I did a good enough job explaining that to my students. I wonder about the students who slipped through. I wonder about the ones who failed out.
I feel like they are the ones we should be talking to.
They are the ones who understand the impact of schooling. Enough of the smartest kids in the class always getting to answer the questions. I want to hear from the kids for whom school didn't work. I want to hear from the alumni who feel cheated by the system. I want our schools to be judged by how well we respected the humanity of the student who graduated with the lowest GPA and how we celebrated and engaged his or her capacity within society.
Because we are a society, we are connected one and all; and ultimately, if school is not relevant for that kid, school is not relevant for any kid.
Shelly Blake-Plock is an educator and blogger-in-chief of Teachpaperless, where a portion of this post originally appeared. He's the writer of 21 Things That Will Be Obsolete in 2020.