Teaching Beauty

Beauty & the Geek, which pairs “gorgeous but academically impaired women with eight brilliant but socially challenged men,” reminds RedKudu of teaching. In one episode, a Beauty can’t figure out the Dewey Decimal System and simply gives up. She knows the show is set up to display her stupidity, so why try to be smart? RedKudu is reminded of students who shut down when the work is frustrating.

I wonder, IF they choose to perceive the material and the class as intended to make them feel stupid (or if they come into it perceiving themselves as stupid), what incentive is there for them to try harder? If no one but me is interested in their achievement (because these are kids whose parents are non-responsive), and I’m the person responsible for the content which discourages them, what role might I play in getting them back without catering to their minimal work habits and apathy?

. . . I’m just wondering if there’s a point at which some…something…could be inserted into the cycle between shut-down and melt-down. Something other than the procedures put in place by the school to catch these kids which so often don’t really catch them, but rather juggle them between promised leniency, outright bribery, and an unspoken agreement to let them slip through the cracks so that they need not trouble us further with their profound inadequacies which have built up over the years — delivered wholesale by the very system claiming to be the preparatory experience for their future lives.

That’s why they call it a reality show.

About Joanne


  1. When you have an object that’s just coasting along, is there any real surprise when that object derails at the first bump?The trick is to remember to teach children that hard is normal, that it’s not personal. When they first learned to walk, it was hard, but then it got easy. When they first learned to tie their shoes, it was hard but got easy. I’ve got kids. They don’t know to make the connection themselves. They think “hard” is a permanent state of being unless you explicitly tell them otherwise. Over and over again. With examples. You have to make it normal for them that school starts out hard, gets easier as you practice, then a new grade comes and it’s hard again. That “hard again” should not be coming as a surprise. It should be a challenge the student has been prepared to expect and conquer.

  2. I just had a child, and I now hang out with other people that have infants and toddlers. The tendency or inclination to give up when frustrated or to scream and be feisty is already present in the infants I see. Some literally hang their head in their hands. Others seize on and scream but pull until success. Others fail to notice the bruises they’ve inflicted while attempting something.

    if a child makes it to age 8, and you are merely the teacher for 6 hours a day, do you really think you’ve got any influence over how they approach adversity? They’ve had these experience and responses since infancy. whether it was parents/nature/nurture that created how they handle it, it is already in the cement. the best you can do is think through how to minimize pain for those who are risk adverse.

    John Holt knew this. read Why Children Fail.