It's been said before...
We've debated who to blame for student failure, and the truth, at least for me, is that responsibility falls sometimes onto the student and sometimes onto the teacher or system. In fact, today I took faux responsibility for student failure. I had a substitute last week that had to deal with a very rowdy class. I told my class that I accept responsibility for not effectively instructin them on how to act like mature high school students.
Dennis Fermoyle writes, "I have taught and coached at Warroad High School for sixteen years. During those sixteen years, I have found that any student who comes and takes classes here will get a good education as long as she has a desire to learn and a willingness to make an honest effort" (In the Trenches, 15). Certainly, some schools underperform and contribute to student failure. But, our society has to be willing to look first at the student when failure occurs.
When I coached Little League Baseball, I took a team of players that were largely made up of cast off players. The other teams had been formed the year before and were only drafting a couple of players. I had a team of three return players and eight new players. Most of these kids were not that talented. It was the second team I had coached. The year prior, I coached a younger group of players. I made a lot of progress with those players so I knew I had the ability to take players and teach them the game. But, many of my players, a bit older than the year previous, had already begun to lose interest in the game in addition to not being very talented.
We struggled to win games. I didn't have good players.
The same can be said for schools. Sometimes we don't have good students. Their interest has already begun to falter in addition to not being very diligent. Sometimes we need to admit that our students are not as good. That doesn't mean we don't teach them. It doesn't mean we lower our standards. It means we take responsibility when we are responsibile. We must be willing to approach the possibility that we, the teacher or system, have failed, and we must be willing to approach the possibility that they, the students or parents, have failed.