It is an actual true fact that many if not most educators in our high schools do not allow students in general to see the exemplary academic work of their peers in their own school. (Academic work in this case does not include dance, drama, newspaper, music, band, yearbook, etc.).
The feeling seems to be that if students are exposed to this good work they will be surprised, envious, discouraged, intimidated, and more likely just to give up and stop trying to do good academic work themselves.
For these reasons, it is another actual true fact that many history and social studies teachers at the high school level have taken care not to let their students see the exemplary history research papers published in The Concord Review over the last twenty years, for many of the same reasons, including a general desire to protect their students from the dangerous and damaging effects of academic competition, which are believed to have the same risk of producing those feelings of envy, depression, anxiety, and intimidation mentioned above.
Putting aside for the moment those risks seen to be attendant on having students shown and/or told about the exemplary academic work of their high school peers, isn’t it about time that we turned our attention to another potential source of those same harmful feelings we have described?
In fact, many, if not most, high school basketball players are known not only to be exposed to and to watch games played by other students at their own school, but also they may be found, in season, watching college basketball games, and even professional NBA games, with no educator or counselor even monitoring them while they do.
Surely, the chances of the majority of high school basketball players getting a four-year college athletic scholarship are slim, and their chances are vanishingly small of ever playing for an NBA team. And yet, we carelessly allow them to watch these players, whose skill and performance may far exceed their own, even though the chance of their experiencing envy, anxiety, intimidation, and so on, must be as great as they would feel in being exposed to exemplary academic work, which we carefully guard them from!
While there may be nothing we can practically do at present to prevent them from watching school concerts, plays, dance recitals, and band performances, or reading the school newspaper, we must take a firmer line when it comes to allowing them, especially in their own homes, or visiting with their friends, to watch college and professional sports presentations.
We should try to be consistent. If we truly believe that showing students and/or telling them about fine academic work by people their own age is harmful, we must take a firmer stand in blocking their access to games and matches, particularly on national television, which expose them to superior athletic performances.
Continue reading Don’t Show & Don’t Tell