This little girl once had a teacher, who failed her. I am extremely thankful for that teacher. It is because of her, that I woke up, and got my butt in gear. I decided I didn't need to do my homework, because it was boring and I knew how to do the work already. I made an "F" that six weeks. That, partnered with my parents' extreme disappointment, made me realize that I had to do the work anyway. I didn't have to like it. It was not fun, and sure it was "pointless." I still did it. It taught me to do things that I don't like to do. It taught me discipline. That teacher was fired, because she supposedly kicked a kid under a desk. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that because she was mean (meaning she made kids do their work), kids did not like her. I am afraid that she was fired, because the kid wanted her fired (there is no tenure in Tennessee) and nothing more. Did I like her at the time? No. Do I appreciate what she did for me now? Definitely.
Some of my favorite teachers were the toughest on me. In high school, I had a very tough English teacher. She was the same teacher that my sister had for AP English. Rumor has it, she was made to teach regular English, because her AP English class was too hard. I think it really had to do with the fact that U.S. Literature was what she liked to teach, and the AP English course offered was no longer a literature class, but I'm not really sure. All I know is that every single regular student thought she was the toughest teacher on the planet. Some liked her, like myself, and some of them just thought she was the meanest person in the world. Those of us who didn't complain about how tough she was, and took advantage of all the opportunities she gave us for success (aka extra credit that you actually had to work for), did fine. I made an "A" in her class, and it was easily the most satisfying "A" of my whole high school career. Why was it so satisfying? Because I actually knew I had earned that "A." I worked for it, and it made me proud. It made me think I was really smart, and I had never really felt like a smart person before. I knew I wasn't stupid, but I also thought I was pretty average in smarts.
I don't think that many kids today appreciate the thrill of working hard for something and actually getting it. They want it to come easily. When it doesn't come easy, they give up. I think part of that can be blamed on us adults praising them too quickly as children. I read lately that we should make sure that kids know it's ok to have to work hard to do something. It's ok if they don't get something as fast as other children. Life isn't a race. We will all meet the same inevitable conclusion, regardless of how long it takes us to get there, how many accomplishments we make along the way, etc.