That Sinking Feeling - "Top Performance"

A wise man once told me: "You can continue to beat your head against that rock, but you will not chip the rock, your head (on the other hand) will be deformed." I guess I should have seen it coming, my being summarily fired from a tutoring job - The parent (in this case the mother) demanding extra "busy-work" for her son between sessions, the lack of discipline, on the student's part (especially his inability to do homework or speak to his subject teacher) and his continual lack of attention during sessions. The call came, "You are not coming here anymore, Billy Ben (not his real name) ONLY got an 81 on his Geometry test. We want top performance, 95 or better, YOU failed." Did I tell you that this student, previous to my seeing him, was working on a solid average of 40? So, it was over. Had I failed? I'm not so sure. First, I didn't take HIS test, and second, knowing the student as I did, I actually thought that an 81 was pretty good and we might have saved the semester after all. "Top performance" has become an ugly catch phrase used by some parents to cover what they believe to be shortcomings in their student's schoolwork. It's an "all or nothing" approach that serves no one. I will be the first to admit that had I been a better student in high school I might not have achieved two Engineering Degrees and a Masters degree in Education, because I went to (close your eyes) "Night School" for a total of 15 years. Every student is an individual, and not all students will be "Top Performers", some will be great scientists and educators because they need to struggle a little to achieve - we still remember Einstein and that failing math grade HE got. Hey, if I could just sprinkle that "Top Performance" pixie dust on all my students, the world would be a better place and my head might not get deformed.

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