A student’s success is hard to define because every individual has different ideas of what is success. Students usually think of success as getting a passing grade, but the schools could define it as students getting a high GPA, and a good citizenship grade, along with a lot of other standards. But schooling, let alone education, shouldn’t be focused on grades. Rather, it should be based on the life lessons learned from the subjects taught. Life lessons could include study habits, confidence to participate, and being punctual to class or job meetings in the future.
A student’s success also can’t be forced by any type of authority and should be approached from a less traditional angle. The students are primarily responsible for their success because they are the ones that need to learn, to succeed and to gain valuable life lessons, the teachers only give them the opportunity to learn. Schooling isn’t the only way to get an education, because we’ve seen successful people from history that strayed from the known student success paradigm and still succeeded. Albert Einstein ended up dropping out of high school even though he became a physicist and his discoveries had an impact on science and the world.
Bill Gates got a high school diploma but ended up dropping out of college and became an entrepreneur. He revolutionized personal computers and is one of the richest people in the world. These are a few of the people that didn’t value academic success, but pursued individual success for themselves. Malcolm X in “Learning to Read” only went to school through the eighth grade, and his education was built upon books he read and studied and the letters he wrote and read during his time of imprisonment.
He also expanded his vocabulary and learned the words in the dictionary by writing each word down along with their definition for every letter on his tablet. X’s dedication to self-success, and with no experience in school after the eighth grade proves that a student is responsible for their success. He asks us, “Where else but in prison could I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensely sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day? ” (X 282). School days are usually only eight hours long, so he wouldn’t have gotten the same out of a classroom setting.
The subjects taught in the classrooms were also unrelated to his interests, so it would have been unnecessary. By being able to learn his interests without having to learn unnecessary subjects in school, he gained more education. He was not destroyed by the prison; he became a passionate reader and speaker in it and has some sense of gratitude for having been put there. Having the capability to educate oneself without being in school, shows that we are responsible for our own success. Teachers can only give us lessons and the opportunity to learn, but it’s our obligation to learn and strive for success.
We need to make the effort to succeed, and get a high school education and a college degree, because without the knowledge and the degrees we won’t be able to find a job that provides you with financial security. Learning can be challenging for some students if they do not have the right motivation. A lack of motivation could occur if a student is uninterested in the subject(s) being taught or if they are erroneously placed in a vocational track (Rose 346). Students may also begin to think if the teacher, isn’t going to go out of their way to give additional help to the students that need it to succeed, than they shouldn’t bother to study.
In the essay “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose, he talks about his time spent in the vocational track and how he began to lose interest in all subjects and began to loath school, During my time in Voc. Ed. , I developed further into a mediocre student and a somnambulant problem solver, and that affected the subjects I did have the wherewithal to handle: I detested Shakespeare; I got bored with history.
My attention flitted here and there. I fooled around in class and read my books indifferently… I did what I had to do to get by, and I did it with half a mind. (Rose 48) By Rose saying that he “did it with a half a mind” means he wasn’t trying and was falling further behind. Rose should have taken more initiative. Success can be achieved even if you’re in the vocational track but it’s up to the student to complete all of the assignments and be inquisitive. Without effort you won’t succeed. Rose wrote, Students will float to the mark you set. I and the others in the vocational classes were bobbing in pretty shallow water. Vocational education aimed at increasing the economic opportunities of students who do not do well in our schools…
The vocational track, however, is most often a place for those who are just not making it, a dumping ground for the disaffected. There were few teachers who worked hard at education; young Brother Slattery, for example, combined a stern voice with weekly quizzes to try to pass along to us a skeletal outline of world history. But mostly the teachers had no idea of how to engage the imaginations of us kids who were scuttling along at the bottom of the pond. (Rose 348) I interpret the phrase “floating to the mark you set”, to mean that students will only achieve what the teacher expects and not strive harder.
Rose’s teachers had no interest in teaching and didn’t know how to engage the students in learning. As Rose stated one of his teachers named Mr. Mitropetros, “had little training in English” so Rose and his classmates just reread Julius Caesar over and over again and they learned nothing else. (Rose 347) The teacher did not care if the students’ were successful so he did not bother to motivate the students or teach them the meaning of the play. Therefore being in the vocational track limited Rose’s education, the track was developed for the students that didn’t have the ability to succeed in a regular academic program.
The students in that track could still get a mediocre education but they didn’t gain writing or self-development skills and the teaching was mediocre. Some might argue that teachers are also responsible for the success of their students. Although some teachers do not feel they need to encourage their class to work harder, by showing them that there is more to being average, there are some who do. A lot of teachers are passionate about their students’ success. They try to find ways to ignite a spark of interest in their students by changing the ways they teach their lessons.
Instead of lectures they mesmerize them in a way that brings out their imagination and thoughtful discussions. The lessons learned aren’t just factual but more about the students thought processes and the amount of effort each student uses to succeed. Rose was fortunate to have one of the teachers that cared greatly about their students’ success and helped him move in to regular classes where he became interested in learning and took responsibility for learning. He writes, “But I worked very hard, for MacFarland had hooked me. He tapped my old interest in reading and creating stories.
He gave me a way to feel special by using my mind. And he provided a role model that wasn’t shaped on physical prowess alone, and something inside me that I wasn’t quite aware of responded to that” (Rose 355). Rose did not have someone that got his mind going before this particular teacher. He had just been getting by until he actually got interested in being part of the class and getting back to his old interests. Without MacFarland going the extra mile for Rose to get the education he deserved, success wouldn’t have been achieved for either of them.
A student motivated to succeed can, regardless of the quality of the teacher as long as they are provided with the information and make the effort to complete all assignments and study for tests. Average is a standard we can set and have students succeed, but the success of the teachers is shown through the students’ achievements and improvements in the class. Therefore, even though the teachers are needed for a student’s success, it’s the student’s responsibility to retain the information and use what was learned in a useful way.