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!