A Lump Of Coal


Modern lore states, rather simplistically speaking, that a lump of coal can be made into a diamond by the application of pressure and heat over an immense time. Realistically you might make a diamond out of a lump of coal by applying tremendous pressure and heat over a long period of time but even then in almost all cases you will simply get a different grade of coal. At times  you will get  an industrial grade diamond that has  good utility and  good value but no matter how it is groomed or presented  is never going to have the sparkle or brightness of a diamond created naturally in a good environment from pure carbon  .

As teachers we are often asked to take lumps of coal ranging from the purest, hardest anthracite to softest most poorly formed peat, often filled with inclusions and imperfections, and turn it  into  sparkly diamonds.   An impossible task in most cases made even more difficult by the fact that under the positive behavior reinforcement canards, controls of political correctness, and their own fears teachers are often now required to complete that diamond making process using  wildly variable student raw materials without applying  any heat or pressure on the student. This leaves  only applying more time as the alternative.   In general this is ineffective, inefficient and fruitless while robbing valuable unrecoverable time from students who do have the potential to sparkle.   Because time is limited and few things come to fruition when important ingredients such as consistent raw materials,  heat and pressure are missing, some students are never going to make the step from lump of coal to diamond despite teachers’ best efforts.   In  fact getting many of our students to even  a milky cubic zirconium stage may require a monumental application of time and effort to the detriment of the rest of the class.

Perhaps its time for our politicians and society  to recognize that law of averages dictates that half the students will always be below average no matter what we do, how we do it, what test they take or which grades they receive.  It must be noted here that nowhere in the rules does it say that below average in school equates with below average in life and yet that is what we hear almost constantly.

Not everyone gets to be or should be an “astronaut,” this is not a value statement or an I give up statement, or a failure to recognize student needs statement.  It  is a politically incorrect, socially uncomfortable, and often unmentionable statement of  fact!

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
This entry was posted in education, Education Reform, Political Correctness, teaching, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Lump Of Coal

  1. thelastgasp1 says:

    An interesting analogy. What politicians and society have lost sight of is that no matter what level of accomplishment (potential or actual) an individual achieves, that individual can be a valuble, contributing member of society…proud, successful and happy.

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