Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The long term consequences of being too nice to students

Thomas Sowell has a recent column titled Postponing Reality. He makes the point that being nice to students may seem like a kindness in the short run, but if the student never learns or masters the material, the student will suffer greatly in the long run.

Dr. Sowell starts off with:

"Reality can be stressful and can sometimes get very rough. Everyone has an incentive to postpone it. Most of us, however, learn the hard way that postponing reality only makes it far worse than facing it early on."

We all know people who put off certain jobs until something becomes a crisis. Often there isn't a problem for awhile. But once the crisis hits, it is much more painful.

An obvious example is the person who never changes the oil in their car, and then eventually the car needs major work. The owner could have taken an hour once every couple thousand miles and the car would have lasted much longer. Without the needed oil changes, the car dies an early death or the owner spends thousands of dollars to rebuild the engine.

Schools and parents are not doing anyone a favor by allowing a student to continue into the next grade if the student hasn't mastered the material. The schools need to give accurate grades, and parents need to fight harder to keep the student where they belong. If a student needs to take a year over, it will be hard in the short run, but they will have a much happier life. By not taking the effort to make sure a child learns the material, the child can avoid the oil change. But down the road the child is the one who will suffer greatly. They will earn less. They will be more likely to be in trouble with the law.

John Wayne once said: "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid."

The reality is that by being “unfair” now and making children really learn the material, teachers and parents are truly being kind. Don’t let the children grow up to be stupid. Make sure they are educated. It is the real way to kind.

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