Each suspension brought a strong lecture from my parents, followed by a week or so of heavy soul searching and a decision to co-operate with the teachers and give my best effort.
– Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide
For me it was report cards. Each report card, I would look at my alphabet soup and resolve that this time would be the time I made the honor roll or Dean’s List. There were at most a handful of times that I did.
What would inevitably happen is that I would tire of being talked at and do just enough to not be called out for daydreaming in class. I would do the assignment and then read my own material I had checked out of the public library. The only times I was fully engaged is when we read out loud, or I had to rehearse the material by leading study groups in class. I was forever trying to fly under the radar. I was forever failing at it and being put in charge of 3-5 other students who didn’t understand what was going on, and would copy what I said word for word into their journals.
What I liked was how much the material came alive in our study groups. Discussing it (dissecting it, rather) for other people forced me to approach it from multiple perspectives. The understanding I got from those experiences shaped the way I approach literature, history and anything intellectual to this day.
I’m lucky in that I have a knack for finding the silver lining. I didn’t let the experience burn me out. Raised with a lack of critical thinking skills, many students today aren’t even aware there’s a silver lining to find. It’s a shame that though Brother Huey experienced this in the middle part of the 20th century, experiences this defeating still persist, in exactly the same form (his) and others (mine). I graduated high school almost nine years ago, but I hear stories like both of the aforementioned from youth in high school today.
By allowing experiences like this to persist and become normal, what are we setting ourselves up for as today’s students take leadership positions where they’re expected to make decisions with far-reaching consequences?